Here’s another letter to The Nation:
Thomas Geoghegan writes that “Of course no country should run a trade deficit. That’s common sense” (“What Would Keynes Do?” Sept. 27).
Let’s translate the first sentence into terms more revealing: “Of course no country should ever have a net inflow of capital.”
Appending “That’s common sense” to this translation of Mr. Geoghegan’s sentence seems, well, to contradict common sense.
Thundering against trade deficits is a shoddy and easy means of rousing the economically illiterate to support destructive protectionist policies. But such histrionics remain very bad economics.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Here’s a letter to The Nation:
Thomas Geoghegan writes approvingly that “for Keynes, a trade surplus was a ‘stimulus,’ and a deficit was a disaster” (“What Would Keynes Do?” Sept. 27).
Yep. Keynes did indeed fret over trade deficits. This fact shows, however, not that we Americans today should redouble our anxiety over our trade deficit, but simply that Keynes’s understanding (circa 1936) of trade flows was poor.
Even on Keynes’s own terms his fretting isn’t justified. Famously fearful that private investment spending would be chronically inadequate in advanced capitalist economies, Keynes should have recognized that “trade deficits” (even during his era when some remnants remained of the international gold standard) are often balanced by countervailing inflows of capital – that is, by inflows of pro-growth investment expenditures of the very sort that Keynes worried would be lacking.
Keynes’s endorsement of Mercantilist nostrums reflects merely the confused intellectual knot that Keynes tied himself into by trying to build a “new” “general theory” out of the detritus of long-discredited pedestrian notions of how economies work.
Donald J. Boudreaux
I thank Peter Minowitz for alerting me to this essay in The Nation.
… is from page 61 of Vol. 9 (Contra Keynes and Cambridge) of Hayek’s Collected Works – and in particular from his 1963 essay entitled “The Economics of the 1930s as Seen from London”:
To me it seems as if this whole effort [begun in earnest in the mid-20th century to scientistically 'scientificize' economics] were due to a mistaken effort to make the statistically observable magnitude the main object of theoretical explanation. But the fact that we can statistically ascertain certain magnitudes does not make them causally significant, and there seems to me no justification whatever in the widely held conviction that there must be discoverable regularities in the relation between those magnitudes on which we have statistical information. Economists seem to have come to believe that since statistics represent the only quantitative data which they can obtain, it is these statistical data which are the real facts with which they deal and that their theories must be given such a form that they explain what is statistically ascertainable. There are of course a few fields, such as the problems of the relation between the quantity of money and the price level, where we can obtain useful approximations to such simple relations – though I am still not quite persuaded that the price level is a very useful concept. But when it comes to the mechanism of change, the chain of cause and effect which we have to trace in order to be able to understand the general character of the changes to be expected, I do not see that the objectively measurable aggregates are of much help.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (05:04 pm)
From the Amazon blurb:
“Blooming brilliant. Devastating” - Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
“...shines a hard light on the rotten heart of the IPCC” - Richard Tol, Professor of the Economics of Climate Change and convening lead author of the IPCC
“...you need to read this book. Its implications are far-reaching and the need to begin acting on them is urgent.” - Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, University of Guelph
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) performs one of the most important jobs in the world. It surveys climate science research and writes a report about what it all means. This report is informally known as the Climate Bible.
Cited by governments around the world, the Climate Bible is the reason carbon taxes are being introduced, heating bills are rising, and costly new regulations are being enacted. It is why everyone thinks carbon dioxide emissions are dangerous. Put simply: the entire planet is in a tizzy because of a United Nations report.
What most of us don’t know is that, rather than being written by a meticulous, upstanding professional in business attire, the Climate Bible is produced by a slapdash, slovenly teenager who has trouble distinguishing right from wrong.
This expose, by an investigative journalist, is the product of two years of research. Its conclusion: almost nothing we’ve been told about the IPCC is true.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:59 pm)
I agree the perks for former Premiers and Prime Minister have got way, way out of hand, but more respect should be shown to the office and those who have held it. In this case, couldn’t Keneally’s perks be limited to a pro-rata period, not denied altogether? One year in office, two years of perks sort of thing?
BARRY O’FARRELL has stripped Kristina Keneally of her post-leadership entitlements, making her the first ex-premier since Jack Renshaw left office in 1965 to receive no benefits at all. The move has prompted one charity for which Ms Keneally volunteers her time to label the Premier ‘’incredibly mean’’.
An email leaked to The Sun-Herald reveals Mr O’Farrell has rebuffed a request by Ms Keneally for the occasional use of a state car and driver to attend night-time charity events, which she does regularly.
In response to Ms Keneally’s request, Mr O’Farrell introduced a minimum five years that a premier must have served before being granted any state-funded entitlements, including office space, staff such as drivers, and airline tickets.
On that basis, however, the former Liberal premier Nick Greiner, who served four years in the job, would be without entitlements. But Mr O’Farrell has decided not to take back Mr Greiner’s perks, which last year cost NSW taxpayers $500,000 by way of a chauffeur-driven car, a city office with secretary and free air travel.
Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally is not entitled to post-leadership entitlements because she wasn’t elected by the people, Premier Barry O’Farrell says…
“Unless you are elected by the people, not appointed by judge Eddie Obeid, you shouldn’t be entitled to taxpayer-funded entitlements.”
Ms Keneally already has a $30,000 allowance as an MP, which in part provides for taxis and hired cars, Mr O’Farrell added.
“Ms Keneally is asking for more than the $30,000 in allowances that’s she’s been provided for these sorts of things already,” he said.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:14 pm)
The Occupy Melbourne protesters want to change the world. Trouble is, they have no idea what to change or how:
The purpose of yesterday’s Occupy Melbourne rally was not entirely clear...
That’s Age reporter Jill Stark, as bemused as anyone. And that’s after consulting the movement’s experts:
As a range of speakers took to the megaphone, including one man dressed as a chicken…
But never mind. If we just wait weeks, even months, these deep thinkers might figure out what’s bothering them:
Asked what he hoped to achieve, Nick Carson, 23, an RMIT sound-art student, who stressed he was an ‘’organising committee member’’ not a spokesman for the ‘’leaderless’’ movement, said that was up to the people of Melbourne. ‘’We’ll be running general assemblies where we’ll be working towards achieving consensus on particular issues. So we may decide we want to release a statement of aims, or a declaration of grievances,’’ he said.
‘’It took them two weeks in New York, two months in Madrid, so let’s see how long it takes us in Melbourne … this isn’t a process that needs to be rushed.’’
These are revolutionaries who haven’t even worked out what they’re revolting against.
Meanwhile, in Sydney, a city of 4,500,000 people, the masses seem utterly unmoved by protests called in their name:
More than 700 people rallied in Sydney’s Martin Place yesterday, with organisers saying they were prepared to camp there ‘’indefinitely’’ ...
But “indefinitely” turns out to mean just a few hours for most of those 700 world changers:
About 200 of them set up camp outside the Reserve Bank of Australia in Martin Place...
An Overland reader complains to editor and academic Jeff Sparrow, the far-Left author of Communism: A Love Story, that the Occupy Melbourne crowd was too ... er .. white - and Sparrow seems to me to join her in breaching thevalues of the Racial Discrimination Act by apparently assuming that the “whites” there weren’t disadvantaged Aborigines:
October 15 2011 at 8:04 am
Nice post Jeff. Hearing politics on the streets was fantastic. As a young(ish?), black woman though, I felt decidedly out of place in the Occupy Melbourne crowd. How can we get the disadvantaged and marginalised communities of Australia, which are arguably the most f*cked up by many of the policies and politics the Occupy Melbourne crowd gathered to protest against, actively involved?…
Jeff Sparrow says:
October 15 2011 at 8:10 am
Yeah. I undersand the same issue — about whiteness, I mean — came up in OWS.
The crowd was too white. I’m afraid that for legal reasons I am unable to further join Sparrow’s fascinating conversation.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:05 pm)
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (10:06 am)
This issue has recently attracted attention in the case of the well known columnist Andrew Bolt. I also wish to draw the attention of the Senate to another case, that of Dr David van Gend, who makes regular public contributions on social conservative issues. Dr van Gend is the subject of a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland for comments he made in a public forum on the issue of same-sex parents....
On 29 June 2011 the Courier-Mail invited Dr Karen Brooks and Dr David van Gend to submit opinion pieces—the case for and against—on gay marriage. Dr van Gend wrote for the case against. This is part of what he wrote:IF you hold to the old-fashioned idea a baby deserves both a mother and a father, the president of the Queensland branch of the Labor Party, Andrew Dettmer, calls your views “abominable"…
Dr van Gend replied:
Yes, it is discrimination to prohibit the “marriage” of two men, but it is just and necessary discrimination, because the only alternative is the far worse act of discrimination against children brought artificially into the world by such men, compelled to live their whole lives without a mother. Now that approaches the abominable.
Dr van Gend’s comments were quoting the Queensland President of the Labor Party when he used the words ‘approaching the abominable’. I do not think they can be in any way construed as vilification on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity. These comments invoked an antidiscrimination complaint under section 12A of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act by a member of the Gay Dads lobby group.... The next thing you know, Dr van Gend has to attend a compulsory mediation… Naturally the doctor feels aggrieved, especially as it takes him away from a busy medical practice where he does much good work.
I did not think that we lived in an Australia where a disagreement of opinion can result in hauling someone before an anti-discrimination board. This is a country where we agree to disagree. This is a country where a two-sided debate can exist. This is a country where people are not intimidated from sharing their point of view. Or is it? First Andrew Bolt, now David van Gend.
I know many people do not agree with their views and I know many who do. It seems that tolerance for the views of others goes out the window if you are from the Left and you do not like to hear an opposing argument. These are the same people who preach tolerance on everything, yet in fact they are the least tolerant when it comes to open debate.
Writing in the Spectator, Senator George Brandis, the Opposition’s shadow attorney general, is alarmed by the jubilation of the Left at my own loss of free speech in a Federal Court decision last month:
There is something peculiarly dispiriting about the sight of journalists celebrating a new restriction on freedom of expression. Yet Fairfax writers in particular were overjoyed. For Mike Carlton, defending Bolt was just the province of ‘the usual reactionaries’. In David Marr’s view, the case was not about free speech at all but the poor quality of Bolt’s journalism. By concentrating on the reasons why the fair comment defence was not available to Bolt, Marr blithely ignored the fundamental issue of whether giving offence or insult — surely a stock in trade of journalists, good and bad, and a practice from which Marr himself has seldom refrained — should attract the attention of the law in the first place.
What these various reactions reflect is something deeper than simple pleasure at the embarrassment of a commentator whose views they find odious. For the Burnsides, Carltons and Marrs, the decision was welcome for the very reason that it limited Bolt’s freedom (and, by extension, anybody else’s) to say things which were offensive to the ‘fair-skinned Aboriginies’ who brought the proceedings against him. For left-liberals and progressives, freedom of speech is not the passionate cause it once was; ‘respect’ (whatever that may mean) matters more. And increasingly, that means controlling what people may say…
As witnessed in the Bolt case, freedom of speech — and its corollary, freedom of the press — are for these people values of less importance than respect for certain favoured groups, who are identified in their minds by their alleged victimhood. Thus, paradoxically, victimhood becomes the basis of a new kind of privilege: showing respect to their special status is a more important value than the freedom to call that status into question. And so, as in the Bolt case, by making certain classes of citizens immune from criticism, the boundaries of legitimate political discussion are restricted.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:52 am)
It’s fine by the media when unions and Labor figures create and fund the far-Left GetUp, which artificially bumps up its “membership” numbers to create the illusion of a mass movement.
But it’s not fine when a conservative, using far less money, helps to create something similar:
AS OPINION polls reveal Labor’s worst results on record, largely on the back of plummeting support for the Gillard government’s decision to put a price on carbon, ‘’grassroots’’ anti-carbon tax websites have mushroomed.
But what appears to be a proliferation of community-based, anti-government activism sites is not necessarily what it seems. Several sites are part of an orchestrated political campaign by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi and conservative organisations he is linked with.
Using American Tea Party-style tactics, Bernardi has built a network of ‘’grassroots’’ political websites that promote limited government, lower taxes, free enterprise and ‘’traditional’’ values - as well as a campaign against the government and its policies, most potently against the carbon tax.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:38 am)
The criminalising of causing “offence” by mere words has gone far too far already, making satire of Leftist causes an endangered form of expression. This assault on our right to free speech should be wound back, not extended - and certainly not extended by a “Liberal” government:
Fines of up to $11,945 will be given to anyone found guilty of upsetting the minister and his staff under the extraordinary new offence.
The Baillieu Government is seeking changes to the Gaming Regulation Act which it says are “reasonably necessary to respect the rights and reputation of the minister and authorised persons”. If passed, the ruling will become law.
The amendment proposed to the Act will make it an offence to “assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate” the minister or authorised persons exercising “due diligence” in monitoring gambling systems such as pokies.
I’m grossly offended by this attack on my right to ridicule. Who can I sue?
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:33 am)
In this world of lawyers we become not just too scared to speak, but too scared to eat:
SOME restaurants have banned them outright. Others will give one to you - if you promise not to sue. A brave few offer them unprompted.
It’s the ‘’doggy bag’’, the container in which leftovers are taken home. Once common in Melbourne, they’ve all but disappeared amid fears of civil action and the incorrect belief that they’re illegal.
Andrew Bolt – Sunday, October 16, 11 (04:27 am)
The Gillard team seems to be falling apart, with some leaking the news that Julia Gillard overruled Chris Bowen’s plan to send boat people to Nauru, after all::
Former Labor leader and Gillard loyalist Simon Crean went public with his disgust over the leaks, warning colleagues their behaviour was disgraceful....
“It’s outrageous that cabinet leaks. People ought to understand the damage this can cause government."…
Ms Gillard is believed to be planning to “read the riot act” to Cabinet after the blow-by-blow account was made public....
Ms Gillard’s decision has deeply angered the Right faction, with one cabinet minister conceding a leadership switch to Kevin Rudd or Stephen Smith may prove the only circuit-breaker.
But Labor powerbrokers Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten and Senator Stephen Conroy denied colleagues’ claims they “confronted” the PM in her office on Thursday over asylum seeker policy.
Mr Shorten said: “I meet with her all the time. If someone’s telling that I confronted Julia on asylum - I deny that.”
Confronted her about somethng else, then?
Naturally, some blamed Mr Rudd for yesterday’s leaks, but it is clear Ms Gillard is looking for multiple rats.