‘How to torture data to justify public policy’ Burning Issues – 7 December 2017

Come and enjoy a burger, mulled wine and a discussion with Sinclair Davidson.


DELICIOUS BURGERS • FREE MULLED WINE & BEERS • GUEST SPEAKER

Join us for a complimentary burger, a beer and some seasonal mulled wine plus a short presentation by Sinclair Davidson, Professor of Institutional Economics at RMIT University, senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and academic fellow at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Davidson has published in academic journals such as the European Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization and the Cato Journal. His opinion pieces have been published in The Age, The Australian, Australian Financial Review, The Conversation, Daily Telegraph, The Drum, Sydney Morning Herald and The Wall Street Journal Asia. He blogs at Catallaxy Files and tweets at @SincDavidson.

He will speak about how public health organisations sometimes manipulate statistics to support their pre-existing public policy goals. The dinner will coincide with the 5th, dismal anniversary of the introduction of plain packaging in Australia but it’s safe to bet the speaker, the guests and the discussion between them will create a cheerful atmosphere!

  • Where: Be Burger restaurant, Rue du Luxembourg 43, 1050 Brussels (close to the European parliament)
  • When: Thursday 7 December 2017, from 18:30

Smoking permitted on the outside terrace.

Tickets are FREE but you must register in advance because places are limited. Friends, family and work colleagues are welcome too.

Please register by filling in the form below or access it by clicking on this link.

Update: Slides here.

This entry was posted in Hypocrisy of progressives, Oppressive government, Plain Packaging. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to ‘How to torture data to justify public policy’ Burning Issues – 7 December 2017

  1. Charlie

    Why should we taxpayers be forced to support this nonsense. Defund universites now

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    You’ll be pleased to know that the long, long-suffering taxpayers isn’t funding this. I’m taking time out of my European holiday to talk to some of my friends about my experiences dealing with government funded “evidence” based research.

  3. Charlie

    So your salary no longer comes from the taxpayer either?

  4. Charles

    The taxpayers are the ones paying for that vacation.

  5. Sinclair Davidson

    I wish I did – public servants with my level of education and experience have much higher salaries and far better super than mere academics. But I work for a multinational corporation that sells education services for a fee. True – the Australian government is the single largest customer of those services (and I have long argued against that model*) but I suspect that is true many Australian businesses – especially in media and legal and professional services. That just tells us the Australian government is too big.

    * government would not be defunding universities so much as defunding students.

  6. Herodotus

    How about an EU burgher roasted on a spit?

  7. bear Necessities

    Stick to the Belgian beers.

  8. John Constantine

    Smoking permitted on the outside terrace.

    Vaping as well?.

  9. NuThink

    @bear Necessities – do you mean “beer Necessities”? As in Stella Artois.

  10. entropy

    I wish I did – public servants with my level of education and experience have much higher salaries and far better super than mere academics.

    While I think attacks on your source of earnings are stupid, and I am sure that the students and research funders get very good value for their money, this bit needs to be called out.
    In my State, the lowest level SES or general manager would earn about the same as an associate professor at a Dawkins Uni. To earn close to as much as a professor, any professor at all, a public servant would have to be an executive director, the third highest level in a government department, with responsibilities kinda like a large faculty dean. The only really higher paid are DDG and Director General. A DDG would earn a fair bit more than a professor but have one heck of a lot more responsibility. There are thousands of professors in this state, while SES are nowhere near as common.
    And to claim that academic super is not as good makes me suspect you are trolling. Public Service super is generous, but only politicians’ super has a hope of besting the conditions of University super.

    State departments can have scientists that are regarded as world experts, but even with thirty or forty years experience, leadership in their field and a publications list the size of a small book, they will be at PO3 or PO4 level simply because they want to be a scientist and live in a regional location. That would be less than half a professor’s salary. And also why whenever the opportunity arises, state agencies regularly lose valuable staff to regional universities for the vastly superior pay, better hours, better super and ludicrously easy to get permission for conferences and overseas travel.

    It is very telling how much healthier and younger looking those fortunate enough to have made the leap look after even as short a time as a year in academia.

  11. entropy

    One other thing: wouldn’t making this presentation, being work related, mean you can claim at least a portion of this trip against your tax?

  12. Hydra

    One other thing: wouldn’t making this presentation, being work related, mean you can claim at least a portion of this trip against your tax?

    Likely.

    Shouldn’t we be encouraging tax minimization?

  13. Gerard

    In Australia many agencies make up data they don’t have or tell outright lies

  14. entropy

    Yes we should. That the doomlord is so dedicated that he works even on holidays should get some consideration from his ultimate employers.

  15. Sinclair Davidson

    And to claim that academic super is not as good makes me suspect you are trolling. Public Service super is generous, but only politicians’ super has a hope of besting the conditions of University super.

    Apart from the 9.5% that is mandated by law, the remainder of my super is deducted from my salary after tax. My super is not underwritten by the Future Fund and is liable to revision by the fund itself. For example, if the fund underperforms I have to accept a lower payout despite the fact that the fund is described as being a defined benefit fund. Participation is a condition of employment, yet the payout is a variable beyond my control and my employer is under no obligation to top up the super even though they require me to sign up as a condition of employment.

  16. Sinclair Davidson

    Stick to the Belgian beers.

    Several years ago my brother-in-law and I sampled some trappist beers from 4% through about 14%. Belgium beer is magnificent.

  17. Neil

    Apart from the 9.5% that is mandated by law, the remainder of my super is deducted from my salary after tax.

    I think that is wrong. University workers get 17% Super. A little higher than Public Servants

    if the fund underperforms I have to accept a lower payout despite the fact that the fund is described as being a defined benefit fund

    I think U can migrate to an accumulation fund if U want like most workers have. Then your returns are based on how the stockmarket performs

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    One other thing: wouldn’t making this presentation, being work related, mean you can claim at least a portion of this trip against your tax?

    I am in Europe for just over seven weeks. I will claim one day for this presentation – so just 2% of my time will be work related. So hardly much of a cost to the taxpayer. On the other hand, my destruction of the Fuelwatch scheme and the part I played in destroying the mining tax means that Australians have saved my lifetime earnings as a academic many, many times over. My advocacy of free markets and supervision of PhD students is thrown in for free.

  19. entropy

    That is pretty much my super arrangements and I don’t have defined benefit either. Clearly RMIT sucks compared with USQ, UQ and QUT, which I understand has between 14% to 17% employer contribution depending on whether it is a defined benefit scheme or accumulation, which is a lot. Is salary sacrifice for your contribution not an option?

    Sorry to derail thread.

  20. H B Bear

    Given this thread has gone completely off the rails I might as well add my 2c,

    But I work for a multinational corporation that sells education services for a fee.

    I thought the Higher Education sector was simply a front for the sale of Australian citizenship?

  21. entropy

    As the seminar is clearly work related, an issue on which you are a world expert, advertised on a blog that is part of your work agreement etc etc, I believe the taxpayer would not begrudge recognition of your efforts.

  22. Sinclair Davidson

    I think that is wrong. University workers get 17% Super.

    Not according to my pay slip. 9.5% is deducted before tax and the remainder is deducted after tax.

    U can migrate to an accumulation fund

    That is not the contract that I signed.

  23. entropy

    On the other hand, my destruction of the Fuelwatch scheme and the part I played in destroying the mining tax means that Australians have saved my lifetime earnings as a academic many, many times over.

    Quite so.

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    I thought the Higher Education sector was simply a front for the sale of Australian citizenship?

    Not quite correct – a vulgar argument, at best, is that higher education sells Australian residency not citizenship. Yet is very hard to argue against the notion that Australia should import educated individuals – especially Australian educated individuals.

  25. Neil

    Not according to my pay slip. 9.5% is deducted before tax and the remainder is deducted after tax.

    Are U sure. I was in the University system once and i got 17% Super. For a time i also Salary Sacrificed 7.5% of my salary meaning i was getting 24.5% Super

  26. Sinclair Davidson

    Is salary sacrifice for your contribution not an option?

    Not really – At my level of income I’m running up against contribution caps. By not tinkering with my super I’m avoiding all sorts of problems that several of my colleagues have encountered over the years.

  27. Sinclair Davidson

    Are U sure

    Yes – I’m pretty sure what my salary slip shows.

  28. Hydra

    Not quite correct – a vulgar argument, at best, is that higher education sells Australian residency not citizenship. Yet is very hard to argue against the notion that Australia should import educated individuals – especially Australian educated individuals.

    Unfortunately most of them are Uber drivers and are very pleased to openly admit about cheating on their exams when they are driving you.

    Are U sure. I was in the University system once and i got 17% Super. For a time i also Salary Sacrificed 7.5% of my salary meaning i was getting 24.5% Super

    Fuck off Neil. You think the man can’t read his own payslip? I used to be employed by a University while I was a student also and was on 9.5%.

  29. entropy

    Sinc, when you get home you should check your arrangements:

    The University will make RMIT superannuation contribution to Unisuper:

    (a) for employees who are employed for less than 12 months: 9.25% or other minimum amount specified by legislation, whichever is the greater amount;

    (b) for employees who are employed on a continuing basis or fixed term contract of 12 months or more: 17%;

    (c) for employees employed on consecutive fixed term contracts that equal or exceed 12 months: 17% from the start of the 13th month of employment.

    These employer superannuation contribution payments will be made to the relevant plan as advised by Unisuper.

    33.2
    The University will make deductions from an employee’s salary for superannuation to Unisuper at a rate of 7% (post tax) until advised by the employee of an alternative deduction as offered by the superannuation fund to which they are contributing.

    It looks like they haven’t updated it since you started.

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    entropy – it is exactly as they say. A deduction from salary is made. It is made after tax. So the whole argument that academic gets X% super is true, but it is paid for, not some gift from other taxpayers.

  31. Sinclair Davidson

    Unfortunately most of them are Uber drivers

    Maybe – but that isn’t a bad thing either. One of the argument I make that isn’t popular is that Australia should import more low skilled workers too.

  32. Neil

    Fuck off Neil. You think the man can’t read his own payslip? I used to be employed by a University while I was a student also and was on 9.5%

    University workers get 17%. That is not taken from your wages. From entropys link

    (b) for employees who are employed on a continuing basis or fixed term contract of 12 months or more: 17%;

    U can also salary sacrifice meaning U can add extra money from your salary. I said earlier i salary sacrificed 7.25% but it may have been 7% meaning i was getting 24% added to Super- 17% from the University and 7% from my salary

    Super is not deducted from your salary unless U are salary sacrificing (I think?)

  33. entropy

    The after tax bit is in clause 33.2.
    The bit in 33.1 is the employer contribution which the uni pays into your fund. It is seperate to your fortnightly taxable income. Looking at that, as you have been working there more than 12 months, it should be 17%, not 9.25 or whatever additional you have arranged from your take home. They haven’t updated you.

  34. EvilElvis

    Ffs. Libertarians having a who’s got the biggest super pissing contest.

  35. Sinclair Davidson

    entropy/neil – thank you for your efforts, but no. That is not how it works. The university deducts a sum of money from my gross salary for super. A portion that is legally mandated before tax and the remainder after tax. Now I can in theory salary sacrifice the portion after tax, but I would then run into a contribution cap problem. I can switch to defined contribution, but that isn’t what I agreed to in my original contract of employment, I could default to the legally mandated contribution, but that involves walking away from a lot of money I have already earned.

    The fact is as follows: Given my age and my income the super system is acting as golden handcuffs. This is precisely how employer super was originally designed to function.

  36. Hydra

    Maybe – but that isn’t a bad thing either. One of the argument I make that isn’t popular is that Australia should import more low skilled workers too.

    Fair. At least you are consistent.

    U can also salary sacrifice meaning U can add extra money from your salary. I said earlier i salary sacrificed 7.25% but it may have been 7% meaning i was getting 24% added to Super- 17% from the University and 7% from my salary

    Not if you are nearing the maximum thresholds; which Sinc would probably be close to without any extra being added.

    For the 2016–17 financial year the general concessional contributions cap for those younger than 50 years old in the 2016–17 financial year is $30,000. However, if you turn 50 years or older in 2016–17 you can contribute up to $35,000 before you may have to pay extra tax.

    https://www.ato.gov.au/uploadedFiles/Content/SPR/downloads/SPRQC38466%20Super%20contribution%20limits.pdf

  37. A Lurker

    Maybe – but that isn’t a bad thing either. One of the argument I make that isn’t popular is that Australia should import more low skilled workers too.

    Why? This makes no sense whatsoever.

    Q. What about the many Australians who want to work and are sincerely trying but in end are failing to find work?

    Q. What sort of income would these imported low skilled workers earn – would their income be sufficient to buy property in Australia or would they put more pressure on public housing and private cheap rentals, and if they did buy into the market, wouldn’t that mean less affordable housing for our own citizens?

    Q. How would you guarantee that they would find employment? If low-skilled and if no jobs, then what are their options here in Australia? Perhaps start-up businesses – if they are low-skilled then how will they fund the start-up, and who will loan them money? More likely it would be straight onto Centrelink.

    Q. If you think that shuffling imported low-skilled workers off to the regions to find work is the answer, I would suggest you take your next holiday touring regional Australia instead of Europe. Many country towns are depressed and slowly dying. What the regions need are jobs (industry, business, manufacturing). What the regions don’t need are more low-skilled workers competing with those already in the regions (including many young people) who are struggling to find local permanent employment. Also, how would you keep imported low-skilled workers in the regions? Won’t they just drift back to the coastal cities?

    No wonder your idea isn’t popular…

  38. Neil

    That is not how it works. The university deducts a sum of money from my gross salary for super.

    I always thought Super was paid for by the company U work for. It is news to me that Super is deducted from your salary. Must be a system i am not familiar with

    My understanding is the only time Super is deducted from your salary is if U salary sacrifice. Some people do and some people don’t. It is a good deal since your contribution is deducted from your gross salary and U pay tax on whats left so its a large tax deduction

    Not if you are nearing the maximum thresholds; which Sinc would probably be close to without any extra being added.

    Then how come sinc is getting anything taken out of his salary?

  39. Diogenes

    I always thought Super was paid for by the company U work for. It is news to me that Super is deducted from your salary. Must be a system i am not familiar with

    You obviously don’t remember Keating’s (in)famous L. A.W. tax cuts which were converted into a super payment – so yes it is a tax cut foregone, and therefore it come out of MY wages – I would rather have got the tax cut !

  40. RobK

    Good on you Sinc. I’d love to be there but can’t. I think it’s excellent and very important that someone of your calibre can deliver a meaningful policy counterpoint especially on an issue that has been railroaded by noble cause zealots of whom we see far too much of but do precious little about. More power to you. Go get em.

  41. H B Bear

    Not quite correct – a vulgar argument, at best, is that higher education sells Australian residency not citizenship.

    A distinction with no difference. A few years in your uncle’s 7-eleven and you are off to the races.

  42. Elle

    Oh you tease! I was about to jump in an Uber and come along … but Brussels? Sigh.

  43. I really wish you’d given more notice than a day. I would have liked to come down from the sunny Netherlands for this but it’s just too short notice. Best of luck anyway and I hope that you get a full house.

  44. Neil

    That is not how it works. The university deducts a sum of money from my gross salary for super.

    Come on. Is this correct? i always thought Super was paid for by the company U worked for

    I was in the University system. i got 17% Super and U had the option to Salary Sacrifice. ie to take money from your wages

    Someone please tell me. Is Super taken from your wages? News to me

  45. entropy

    Neil, Sinc just needs to check his arrangements when he gets home.

  46. Siltstone

    I am a huge critic of Sinc’ s ludicrous support for the Potentially Great (TM) Prime Minister, but he is doing Gods work in Brussels and in the spirit of Christmas I wish him well.

  47. BorisG

    I will claim one day for this presentation

    So if I work on holidays I can claim tax deduction? Or only on travel expenses while overseas?

    this is important for me because I work a lot on weekends and holidays.

  48. Nato

    ‘How to torture data to justify public policy’ aka reading The Cat’s comments section.

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