… is from Plutarch, quoted on page 95 of the 1998 Liberty Fund re-issue of Trevor Colbourn’s superb 1965 book The Lamp of Experience:
No beast is more savage than man, when possessed of power equal to his passion.
Keynes was – without any intention of slurring him – an opportunist and an operator…. [I]n 1931 he came out in favor of protection. These gyrations frequently made him seem inconsistent to his contemporaries; actually, the examples cited can easily be reconciled by reference to the modern theory of second-best, but Keynes never spelled out such a theory. The General Theory represents the apotheosis of opportunism in this sense, in two ways. Mass unemployment had lasted so long that it appeared to the average man to be the natural state of affairs, which economics was powerless to explain and political processes powerless to alter; a new theory of its causes that promised an easy cure was thus virtually certain to sell, provided its author had impeccable professional credentials. But to be a new theory it had to set up and then knock down an orthodox theory, not merely explain what traditional theory really was and develop its application to the problem at hand – a procedure that Keynes had applied frequently in his younger days…
Earlier in this 1973 essay (entitled “Keynes and British Economics,” and reprinted on pages 77-90 of Johnson’s 1975 collection On Economics and Society), Johnson quite properly derides Churchill’s catastrophic 1925 decision to return Britain to the gold standard at pre-war parity – a policy that even a good freshman economics student would have seen would require a significant reduction in the price level given the inflation that Britian had experienced over the previous ten years. About this historical calamity, Johnson writes (on page 79):
Had the exchange value of the pound been fixed realistically in the 1920s – a prescription fully in accord with orthodox economic theory – there would have been no need for mass unemployment, hence no need for a revolutionary new theory to explain it, and no triggering force for much subsequent British political and economic history.
One of the best books on political theory that I’ve read in years is Mark Pennington’s Robust Political Economy. I’ll be writing more about it in the future.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute’s Dan Ikenson argues that “the president should strongly advocate the elimination of duties on imported manufacturing inputs and other domestic impediments to U.S. competitiveness abroad and at home.” [Dan's correct - although I pick a nit: talk of "U.S. competitiviveness," while it might help to better sell politically the case for freer trade, is wrong and misleading. As Paul Krugman correctly argued in 1994, "competitiveness is a meaningless word when applied to national economies."]
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (11:10 am)
The warmist Sunday Age asked readers to nominate the global warming questons that most needed answering.
Last week, it had to addresss the winning question - the one about what difference Julia Gillard’s tax could possibly make to the temperature. Answer: less than 4 one-thousand parts of a degree.
This week, it has to answer this one:
THE QUESTION: It is accepted that man’s carbon dioxide emissions are causing an amount of warming of the climate. However, the magnitude of any future warming is highly uncertain. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges that its understanding of a number of key natural climate drivers and feedbacks is ‘’low’’ or ‘’very low’’. Why is it, therefore, that the Fairfax press is reluctant to engage with and investigate this uncertainty with an open-minded impartiality, and instead continues to publish articles based on a rigid editorial agenda that ‘the science is settled’?
With such doubt, why do Fairfax newspapers make comments like this (in an editorial in The Age)?: ‘’There is now little chance of containing global warming within the ‘guardrail’ [of 2 degrees] that most scientists believe is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change … failure to keep temperature rises within the guardrail raises the prospect of a 4 degree rise by as early as 2060, causing widespread droughts and desertification, coastal flooding with the dislocation of millions of people, dwindling food supplies because of the loss of agricultural land, and the extinction of many species’’.
The reason, says Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Peter Fray, is that the uncertainties are not sufficient to undermine the main conclusions of the science. ‘’The IPCC … may still be investigating the natural drivers of climate change but that is not the same as saying climate change does not exist or the science is in doubt,’’ he said…
But the editors of the Fairfax papers deny they have a ‘’rigid editorial agenda’’.
‘’In editorials we have accepted the views of the IPCC, just as we would have accepted the peer reviewed work of a [Sir Isaac] Newton or [Michael] Faraday,’’ Fray said. ‘’[But] we have reported, for instance, the Climategate leaks saga and we have often reported alternative or sceptical views about climate science.’’…
Age editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge said the newspaper had published ‘’a range of opinions on the IPCC and the issue of scientific uncertainty’’ in its news reporting, and had also reported on the ‘’divisions in the scientific community’’. ‘’It’s important to understand that The Age’s editorial opinion is separate to … our reporting."…
And Australian Financial Review editor Paul Bailey said ‘’we don’t believe there is or has ever been, a Fairfax line on climate change’’…
Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn acknowledged that coverage of climate change in Australia could be improved. ‘’As far as I know, we have never done a detailed story before about what the uncertainties around the science actually are. It is one of the reasons why debate on climate change can get so fraught so quickly. It is a complex subject and the reporting in Australia has at times lacked depth and context.’’
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (09:37 am)
Chris Berg is absolutely right about these hypocrites:
WHERE are our great public intellectuals on new threats to freedom of the press? Under the Howard government, there was a minor genre of books and essays condemning the prime minister’s apparent antipathy to public debate. With titles like Silencing Dissent, academics and activists lined up to say John Howard was cracking down on his opponents. David Marr argued in a 2007 essay that Howard was ‘’corrupting public debate’’. Howard had ‘’cowed his critics’’ and ‘’muffled the press’’.
So the silence on the inquiry into media bias is jarring. Yesterday the Greens proposed an inquiry to look at ‘’whether the current media ownership landscape in Australia is serving the public interest’’. Those are weasel words. The inquiry - also supported by some independents and many within the government - is obviously intended to influence what the media publishes.
After all, Rob Oakeshott supports an inquiry because he thinks ‘’complete rubbish’’ is being written about him. Labor MP Steve Gibbons spoke of the need for an inquiry because of ‘’vendettas of hate’’ being waged against the government. Greens senator Christine Milne has said ‘’bias is certainly one of the things which is going to be looked at’’. Bob Brown talks of the anti-Green ‘’hate media’’.
The federal cabinet reportedly held lengthy discussions several weeks ago about ‘’going to war’’ with News Ltd and The Australian newspaper. Along with an inquiry, the cabinet also canvassed a government advertising boycott, because it wasn’t happy with coverage of the Craig Thomson affair and journalist Glenn Milne’s airing of old allegations that Julia Gillard had been tangentially associated with similar things.
But recall: in his Howard-era essay, David Marr described the government’s reluctance to use taxpayer money on objectionable artistic grants as ‘’censorship by poverty’’.
Many agreed. Surely by this loose standard, the Gillard government’s threat of withdrawing advertising from a media company it objects to is ‘’censorship’’ as well? Where’s the outcry?
Where indeed? These are people support a side, not a principle.
(Thanks to reader Steve.)
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (08:58 am)
A fine speech, properly drawing on an even finer one.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (06:09 am)
The likelihood grows of an election by June, on the eve of the implementation of the carbon dioxide tax:
As part of the second phase of their ‘’It’s un-Australian’’ campaign, Clubs NSW and the Australian Hotels Association say they will plaster clubs and pubs with posters and banners - some as long as 1.5 metres - showing the face of their local federal MP.
The posters will feature the first name of the MP, followed by: ‘’Why don’t you stand up for our community?’’ ...
Clubs and pubs say they will have to outlay about $40 million to install pre-commitment spending computer chips in their pokies.... The measure was promised to the Tasmanian independent, Andrew Wilkie, as part of the deal to win his support for Labor to form government....
Federal Labor MPs in NSW are reportedly trying to distance themselves from the government’s promise to introduce mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines, describing the impact of Clubs NSW’s grassroots campaign as ‘’worse than the carbon tax’’.
Mr Wilkie ... has threatened to bring down the Gillard government if it is not legislated by next May.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (06:03 am)
Oh, and just in case you forgot he was there:
“Just got to a million twitter (sic) followers. Thanks to all. One guy said it’s time for a new twitter pic. How about my 1977 mo photo? KRudd,” the Foreign Minister tweeted, using his KRuddMP account.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (05:55 am)
How much of our spending on counter-terrorism is justified?:
Athol Yates, executive director of think tank the Australian Security Research Centre, has calculated that Canberra has spent about $10.5 billion on homeland security, while state and local governments plus private industry have forked out another $5.5 billion, taking the total domestic security bill to about $16 billion.
When combined with the extra military spending, the tally is $26.9 billion so far. ..
More than 100 Australians have been killed by terrorists since 2001 - all of them overseas, the majority in the 2002 Bali bombing…
Newcastle academic Professor Mark Stewart, co-author of the book Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security, ,,, said no one in government was asking how counterterrorism funds were being spent or if the spending was effective…
‘’Given that the risk of an Australian being killed in a terrorist attack is one in 7 million per year … how much more money do we need to spend to make that risk smaller, when the remote risk is about the same as being struck by lightning?’’
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, September 11, 11 (05:23 am)
Will Labor’s Left really vote for a “solution” that’s sold as tougher than Nauru? Will the Greens really wave this through? Will hypocrisy triumph? Stay tuned:
LEGISLATION will be rushed into Parliament to allow the federal government to resurrect its failed attempt to send asylum seekers to Malaysia.
Although the Greens are opposed to offshore processing, the government may win the support of the independents with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott saying they would wait to see the details of the new policy before making a decision…
A return to the ‘’Pacific solution’’ has been ruled out after the government said it would cost more than $1 billion to send people to Nauru…
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, maintains he would only side with the government if it decided to send asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island, not Malaysia.
Left faction convener Doug Cameron, who once complained the ALP caucus had become political zombies too scared to speak their minds, said the Malaysian solution was no solution at all.
“We should stick to the party platform,” he said.
“That’s onshore processing. It’s the humane thing to do.”
Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin said: “I don’t think we should compromise on human rights as a first resort.”
WA Labor MP Melissa Parke said she would argue strongly against offshore processing.
ALP sources also suggested some Labor MPs may abstain from any vote.
More hypocrisy.. . Remember the outrage Labor manage to summon over the sinking of the SIEV X duringthe Howard Government’s time?:
SIEVX was a genuine tragedy. Many of the issues we are concerned about have not been fully resolved, but they need to be. We recommend that there be an independent inquiry into all the events surrounding SIEVX
Now it cannot be bothered even mentioning the sinking of other vessels under its own watch, and certainly not to the families of the dead:
A DISTRESS call giving out the co-ordinates of a stricken boat carrying 105 Hazaras seeking asylum, who are now presumed to have drowned, was received by Australian Customs and Border Protection officials but the agency has never publicly revealed the details.
Advice that the vessel was in distress and its position in seas between Indonesia and Australia on October 3, 2009, was passed by the agency to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority…
But the boat has never been found and those on board have not been heard from since, despite the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, having later said that ‘’subsequent credible information’’ showed the boat’s difficulties had been resolved…
Shortly after the boat disappeared, frantic Afghan community members in Australia made inquiries with the Department of Immigration and Customs and Border Protection, but were told nothing about the fate of the boat....
Information about the 105 missing Afghan Hazaras ...only came to light after the opposition asked in Parliament what the government knew about each of the missing eight boats.
Will Kevin Rudd explout Julia Gillard’s crash-through-or-crash ultimatum to her party tomorrow? Remember what Rudd said on the night before Gillard took his job?:
If I return as the leader of the Government and Prime Minister, I will be very clear of one thing, this party and Government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers.
And now, with Gillard trying to lurch to the Right on asylum seekers, there’s this:
Caucus tensions are rising as former PM Kevin Rudd continues to build his profile. Mr Rudd’s supporters have warned Labor colleagues that voters will “wipe us off the planet” unless there is a change in leadership before the next election.