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  14. <description>Economic, legal, political and social commentary</description>
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  21. <title>Brian Schmidt: The Mathematics Does Not Lie: Why Polling Got The Australian Election Wrong</title>
  22. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/20/brian-schmidt-the-mathematics-does-not-lie-why-polling-got-the-australian-election-wrong/</link>
  23. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/20/brian-schmidt-the-mathematics-does-not-lie-why-polling-got-the-australian-election-wrong/#comments</comments>
  24. <pubDate>Mon, 20 May 2019 08:16:36 +0000</pubDate>
  25. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  26. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  27. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  28. <category><![CDATA[Politics - national]]></category>
  29.  
  30. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32857</guid>
  31. <description><![CDATA[This is a guest post by Brian Schmidt. Actually it isn&#8217;t, I&#8217;ve cut and pasted. I hope he doesn&#8217;t mind. Important stuff. HT: John Walker Everyone in my office grew sick last week of my continual complaints about the state &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/20/brian-schmidt-the-mathematics-does-not-lie-why-polling-got-the-australian-election-wrong/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  32. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>This is a guest post by Brian Schmidt. Actually it isn&#8217;t, I&#8217;ve cut and pasted. I hope he doesn&#8217;t mind. Important stuff. HT: John Walker</p>
  33. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Everyone in my office grew sick last week of my continual complaints about the state of the political polls. Not because of any insights into the results they were predicting, but because they were all saying the same thing with a collective similarity that violates the fundamentals of mathematics.</p>
  34. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Since the election was called, there were 16 polls that published two-party preferred results ahead of Saturday’s vote. Every single one of them predicted the LNP winning 48% or 49% of the two-party preferred vote, with Labor winning 51% or 52%.</p>
  35. <p style="padding-left: 30px">These polls were central to the public’s perception of this election, with everyone, including the media, ignoring the polls’ underlying uncertainties. These uncertainties typically far out-weighed most of the conclusions drawn from the poll results.<span id="more-32857"></span></p>
  36. <p style="padding-left: 30px">In 2019 it’s hard to get a poll right. No longer is there an easy way to phone a random sample of people at home using the White Pages. Those people who are contacted are less likely to agree to be surveyed than in decades past. This means that getting a random sample that really represents Australia is harder than ever.</p>
  37. <p style="padding-left: 30px">But the one thing that is almost impossible to avoid is what is called sampling error. This uncertainty in a poll is caused by talking to a subset of people, rather than everyone. And no matter what you do, except polling more and more people (which is very expensive), you are stuck with it.</p>
  38. <p style="padding-left: 30px">You can think of the uncertainties in the polls much like what happens when you flip a coin 10 times. You can expect to get the “right” answer of five heads quite frequently, but not every time. It turns out mathematics tells us that you’ll only get five heads 25.2% of the time.</p>
  39. <p style="padding-left: 30px">If you do a similar calculation for the 16 polls conducted during the election, based on the number of people interviewed, the odds of those 16 polls coming in with the same, small spread of answers is greater than 100,000 to 1. In other words, the polls have been manipulated, probably unintentionally, to give the same answers as each other. The mathematics does not lie.</p>
  40. <p style="padding-left: 30px">I say unintentionally because humans are biased towards liking to get the same answer as everyone else. We often make subtle choices, even in quantitative analyses, to get the answer we expect. Commonly called confirmation bias in science, many of the large experiments in physics and astronomy hide the answers of an analysis from researchers until they are completely done to avoid this effect.</p>
  41. <p style="padding-left: 30px">I don’t know why the polls so badly missed the election’s actual result. But whatever led to the five polling companies to illegitimately converge on the same answer, must be a significant contributor. All five need to have a thorough and independent investigation into their methodologies, and all should agree to better reflect uncertainties in their future narratives.</p>
  42. <p style="padding-left: 30px">The last five years have demonstrated to me the fragility of democracy when the electorate is given bad information. Polls will continue to be central to the narrative of any election. But if they begin to emerge as yet another form of unreliable information, they too will be opened up to outright manipulation, and by extrapolation, manipulation of the electorate. This is a downward spiral our democracy can ill afford.</p>
  43. <p style="padding-left: 30px">• Professor Brian Schmidt is a Nobel Laureate in physics and the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University</p>
  44. ]]></content:encoded>
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  47. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32857</post-id> </item>
  48. <item>
  49. <title>RIP Bob Hawke: a repost from 2008</title>
  50. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/17/rip-bob-hawke-a-repost-from-2008/</link>
  51. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/17/rip-bob-hawke-a-repost-from-2008/#comments</comments>
  52. <pubDate>Fri, 17 May 2019 01:44:55 +0000</pubDate>
  53. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  54. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  55. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  56. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  57. <category><![CDATA[Politics - national]]></category>
  58.  
  59. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32854</guid>
  60. <description><![CDATA[I worked for the early Hawke government in 1983 and 1984 when I worked for Senator John Button. Hawke barely knew me then or later, but in 2003, I attended a dinner at Moonee Valley Racecourse in honour of the &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/17/rip-bob-hawke-a-repost-from-2008/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  61. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>I worked for the early Hawke government in 1983 and 1984 when I worked for Senator John Button. Hawke barely knew me then or later, but in 2003, I attended a dinner at Moonee Valley Racecourse in honour of the 20th anniversary of his election. Anyway, I happened to be at his table and made a point at the end of the dinner of going up to him, shaking his hand and saying &#8220;Thanks for being the only really good prime minister of my lifetime,&#8221; an assessment which I hold to this day.</p>
  62. <p>Hawke and Keating, both at the time of their 13 years in office and ever since, have enjoyed a relative status surprisingly like Paul McCartney and John Lennon, respectively. Paul, like Hawke, was the babyface, the one more liked by your average Joe but John, like Keating, was the one with intimations of depth and drama. We look down upon those who seem to want us to like them – like Paul and Bob. They can&#8217;t be a Cool Kid – like Paul and John. In any event, it&#8217;s been becoming clearer that Paul was the greater talent in the Beatles, though they were both giants. And I&#8217;d say the same of Hawke versus Keating. Labor supporters are also always a sucker for a martyr, and Keating managed to measure up – along with Whitlam and Gillard.</p>
  63. <p>Such fond thoughts are all very well, but in politics, you sign up to a struggle on behalf of those you claim to represent. You owe them everything you can manage to stitch together to achieve victory. If you want to be a grand failure, better to pick religion. Not politics.</p>
  64. <p>In any event, to mark his passing I&#8217;m hoisting an essay I wrote in late 2007 trying to crystallise what seemed to me the lessons from the Hawke and Howard years with an obvious eye to the new Rudd government. What I&#8217;ve never told anyone before is that on publication, the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rang me and offered to create a post of Australian Strategist Laureate for me if I&#8217;d accept it. (I haven&#8217;t told anyone this before because I only just made it up.)</p>
  65. <h3>Compare and Contrast</h3>
  66. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>I.</strong></p>
  67. <p>Just as Marshall McLuhan argued that, in media, the medium was the message, one can say something similar about style and substance in politics. The style is the substance or at least comes to determine it. The political history of the last generation particularly the contrast between Bob Hawke&#8217;s and John Howard&#8217;s styles illustrates my point.</p>
  68. <p>Their rhetoric notwithstanding, Hawke&#8217;s and Howard&#8217;s economic ideologies weren&#8217;t far apart. Each sought prosperity through a vigorous market, and each supported substantial income redistribution. But the quality of governance differed considerably in ways that suggest lessons for the future.<span id="more-32854"></span></p>
  69. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>II.</strong></p>
  70. <p>Lack of resources and timidity in the face of inevitable scare campaigns ensure that opposition platforms are painfully incomplete blueprints for government. But the style of government influences the subsequent development of that platform for good or ill.</p>
  71. <p>Three crucial and related elements of political style depend on whether:</p>
  72. <blockquote>
  73. <ul>
  74. <li>unity or division is emphasised;</li>
  75. <li>there is a cult of the strong leader as opposed to the leader being seen as an orchestrator of wider forces; and</li>
  76. <li>the extent to which populist themes dominate political rhetoric</li>
  77. </ul>
  78. </blockquote>
  79. <p>Hawke provides us with the archetype of one style. Seeing himself as the conductor in an orchestra more than the strong man at the helm, his style was self-consciously inclusive. Of course, he was happy to use populist themes, but much of his political energy was dedicated to persuasion, to arguing a principled case for economic reform.</p>
  80. <p>By contrast, Howard saw himself as the strong leader, and his instincts were populist and nationalist. As a result, his reign was remarkably free of policy momentum. And that robbed him of political momentum. Remarkably for a politician governing during a long boom, each election saw Howard come from well behind, needing to pull &#8216;a rabbit from his hat&#8217; to use the expression that became a cliché by the time Howard&#8217;s time drew to a close.</p>
  81. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>III.</strong></p>
  82. <p>The centrepiece of Hawke&#8217;s economic strategy was tackling both inflation and unemployment simultaneously by reducing real wages and doing so by agreement with the unions rather than with economic contraction. Despite widespread scepticism (such policies had failed elsewhere), things fell into place with great felicity.</p>
  83. <p>Like all successful prime ministers, Hawke had his luck. But his consensus was the template on which a rich, new style of politics developed. A highly productive relationship grew around the framework of the Accord. The unions delivered lower disputation and wage restraint. Treasury and the central agencies sold the new government a backlog of economic reform that the previous government had baulked at.</p>
  84. <p>Though not formally part of the structure, business leaders were also involved in the process. These new nodes of ideas and influence existed in a productive and dynamic tension with one another so that within a few years the Treasury, the ACTU, some business peak bodies and the government each under the sway of competent and pragmatic leaders were working very productively together.</p>
  85. <p>Within just five years of Hawke&#8217;s election, the process of microeconomic reform had been articulated in a wide-ranging and mature form and it continued to unfold as governments committed and then implemented new policies over the next decade. And on the back of the revenue from rapid growth, the government bought continuing wage restraint, economic reform and major increases in transfers to poorer households.</p>
  86. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>IV.</strong></p>
  87. <p>By contrast, Howard&#8217;s accession to power was much less constructive. Sacking six departmental heads at the outset, his government&#8217;s relationship with the bureaucracy was serviceable but not particularly creative or productive. And while its relationship with business was close and sympathetic, business wasn&#8217;t a particularly useful partner in developing and implementing a political agenda.</p>
  88. <p>Where Hawke enjoyed an extended honeymoon lasting beyond his 1984 re-election, Howard was in trouble within his first year. Introducing gun control and slashing expenditure showed political courage, but policy was a series of episodes rather than the unfolding of a growing policy vision.</p>
  89. <p>Within 12 months of Howard&#8217;s taking office, there was increasing alarm at his directionlessness. In this circumstance, Howard took his economic policy vision off the shelf, as it were, promising the GST that Hawke and Fraser had shied away from. Though his subsequent re-election was inevitably regarded as a vindication, it was a difficult election to lose. And Howard lost it on votes, though he held sufficient marginal seats to retain government.</p>
  90. <p>A leader with greater policy vision wouldn&#8217;t normally have needed this grand and near politically suicidal gesture.</p>
  91. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>V.</strong></p>
  92. <p>To use the ungainly terminology of our time, Hawke&#8217;s strategy was triangulation, Howard&#8217;s was wedge politics.</p>
  93. <p>Coined by Bill Clinton&#8217;s advisor Dick Morris, &#8220;triangulation&#8221; involves a leader presenting themself as someone above and between partisan politics, finding a creative but commonsensical course between left and right. As Katherine West used to observe, for quite some time, Prime Minister Hawke appeared above the ruckus and between the left and right.</p>
  94. <p>As the expression suggests, wedge politics focuses on dividing one&#8217;s opponents or their constituency. At least where it&#8217;s been most devastating, wedge politics has appealed to populist sentiment. It appeals to the idea of a nation or a national culture besieged either from without as in the case of terrorism and asylum seekers, or from within as in the case of the culture wars against effete elites who are seen to court nihilism, relativism and cultural disintegration.</p>
  95. <p>Now, these sentiments can make a good speech. In the right circumstances, they can win an election. But they are expressive, not deliberative. &#8220;We decide who comes here and the circumstances under which they come&#8221; is ill-suited to the unfolding of a coherent policy platform.</p>
  96. <p>Of course, all democratic politicians juggle tensions between popular sentiments and policies that must be more carefully considered. Yet, not surprisingly, political strategising dominates the mind of most professional politicians. And where wedging is at best a distraction from the policy substance of governing, triangulation is a political strategy which is <em>about policy</em> rather than value-laden gestures. It facilitates a constructive integration of political strategy and rhetoric and policy development. Populist wedging frustrates it.</p>
  97. <p>Further, though a government practising triangulation frequently steals its opponents&#8217; policies, its focus remains itself. To the extent possible in the chancy game of politics, it remains the author of its destiny. By contrast, wedge politics is reactive both to evolving events and to its opponents. Thus, although one can think of some exceptions to this generalisation, while Hawke&#8217;s broad strategy was to marginalise his opponents as irrelevant, Howard&#8217;s approach was to exploit opposition weaknesses, so much so that his own conduct was often shaped by little more than the desire to draw his opponents into political dilemmas.</p>
  98. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>VI.</strong></p>
  99. <p>If his first year in office left onlookers wondering what he was trying to achieve, Howard&#8217;s last year was an apotheosis in which the style of sledging and wedging his opponents had become the substance. What policy direction there ever was had leached away, overtaken by a clearing of the policy decks (numerous policies being hurriedly reversed to neutralise the opposition&#8217;s policy advantage) and a symphony of improvised attacks on its opponents.</p>
  100. <p>Howard improvised one political feint after another. The only time I can remember when I had less knowledge of what alarms and excursions might turn up in the next day&#8217;s papers was during the chaos that was the Whitlam Government.</p>
  101. <p>With the recent AWB scandal leaving the government&#8217;s distain for the principles of ministerial responsibility fresh in the mind, the Minister for Environment got tangled up in the government&#8217;s attack on Kevin Rudd. With the government in high dudgeon about Rudd meeting <em>persona non grata</em> Brian Burke, the minister turned out to have done the same thing quite appropriately in his ministerial duties.</p>
  102. <p>At this point, the principles of Westminster Government appeared, like some digitised folkloric creature in a Harry Potter movie with nothing but its uncanny weightlessness to give away its essential unreality. The minister resigned. His prime minister said he&#8217;d done nothing morally wrong. Others in his party said that in resigning hed done the right thing. The minister, smiling and magnanimous, was transparent about his party&#8217;s motivation, which was to clear the decks for intensified attacks on the Opposition Leader. And so, the once-grave principle of ministerial responsibility reasserted itself one last time under Howard, this time transformed into an ironic simulacrum of its former self &#8212; a walk-on walk-off cameo the tactical <em>feint du jour</em> in the news cycle.</p>
  103. <p>And apparently seeking to expose divisions in the ALP, Howard managed to wedge his own party by embracing nuclear power. He then downplayed the conversion as a grateful opposition drove home its electoral unpopularity.</p>
  104. <p>The rudderless in pursuit of Rudd.</p>
  105. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>VII.</strong></p>
  106. <p>Workchoices offers a pointed example of our themes.</p>
  107. <p>Though Hawke never gained control of the Senate, the style and institutions of consensus politics also helped insulate him from this kind of political overreach. The search for consensus often identified politically viable means of making policy progress while addressing the concerns of major interest groups. And once policies had been broadly agreed, the partners to the process then helped sell the sometimes difficult messages that emerged, like the need to rein in expenditure, reduce real wage costs, protection and means test benefits.</p>
  108. <p>In fact, as right-leaning labour economist Mark Wooden observed, Workchoices itself was far from clean or coherent as labour market liberalisation. In addition to introducing new red tape and arbitrarily restricting what could be negotiated, it maintained minimum wages that were relatively and absolutely amongst the highest in the world. And it was not integrated with other arms of policy, most particularly welfare.</p>
  109. <p>Workchoices eroded wages and conditions for lower paid workers, though perhaps less dramatically than many feared. But Howard never clearly acknowledged the obvious political problem. He responded to the inevitable scare campaign with an Orwellian mix of advertising and spin seeking to highlight the positives. Even Workchoices Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) read like a marketing brochure, and was duly rejected as an inadequate appraisal of costs and benefits by the independent red tape watchdog. (As an aside, this was while the Howard government-appointed Banks Committee was coming up with a red-tape busting agenda. In 2007, with a refurbished regulatory gatekeeping infrastructure in place in the wake of the Banks Report, the hastily cobbled together &#8220;Fairness Test&#8221; also fronted with an inadequate RIS).</p>
  110. <p>More importantly for the fate of the Howard government, in eliding the policy problem (the costs imposed on some) it ignored the corresponding political problem.</p>
  111. <p>It needn&#8217;t have been that way. Hawke&#8217;s approach to engineering lower real wages was straightforwardly negotiated with stakeholders and so addressed these issues as an integral aspect of its design. Wage restraint was sold as equality of sacrifice for the greater good of the economy and community, and other arms of policy were mobilised to compensate workers through the social wage (Medicare) and through a wage tax trade-off.</p>
  112. <p>Ironically, in 1999 the Business Council proposed something in this mould. It proposed and met with the ACTU to seek support for a wage tax trade-off which would have seen the minimum wage frozen in return for tax credits to compensate low income working families. But the government showed little interest.</p>
  113. <p>If cost had been the problem or the fact that the compensation package was highly targeted and so created some losers in childless households, this constraint evaporated as the mining boom drove soaring company tax receipts. Remarkably, during the endless embarrassment of riches that followed, the government seemed endlessly caught short, cutting taxes in different ways in four successive years (without trying to buy reform with such measures) and improvising any number of different giveaways invariably multiples of $100 to specific groups. Beneficiaries included pensioners, self-funded retirees, parents. One year apprentices got $800 for their tool kit.</p>
  114. <p>Had the government acknowledged the losers from Workchoices, explained its rationale and explicitly compensated them for it, history could have been very different.</p>
  115. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>VIII.</strong></p>
  116. <p>Triangulation has been the political style of left-of-centre parties, whilst wedging has characterised the right. Yet, there&#8217;s no logical necessity for this. It would be perfectly possible for right-leaning parties to triangulate and so dominate the centre as to render their opponents irrelevant, but both here and in other countries, particularly the United States, they have practised divisive and populist wedge politics.</p>
  117. <p>In fact, in Australia, we&#8217;ve had three right-leaning political leaders who have had powerful policy visions. They&#8217;ve not embraced wedge politics. Yet in presenting themselves as strong leaders, each has forsworn the resources the inclusion of triangulation. And each of those leaders &#8212; Hewson, Kennett and Greiner &#8212; was less politically successful than Howard the wedger, whilst enjoying no worse circumstances.</p>
  118. <p>We&#8217;ve also had a left-leaning political leader Paul Keating mix the economic policy of triangulation with a new, more divisive style focused on his own strong leadership. Like the three Coalition politicians mentioned above, Keating&#8217;s style had more than a little of the crazy brave about it and, like them, his period of political supremacy was surprisingly short given his talents.</p>
  119. <p style="text-align: center"><strong>IX.</strong></p>
  120. <p>Prime Minister Rudd&#8217;s style is already emerging. Promising a new consensus across our country, he&#8217;s already pre-emptively launched a process by which his opposition number is undergoing trial by bipartisanship on Aboriginal affairs. These clues suggest that Rudd wants to be the conductor rather than the heroic leader, the uniter not the divider, the triangulator, not the wedger.</p>
  121. <p>But Hawke&#8217;s success was built not just on his own style, but on what it brought forth most particularly the Accord and the creative tension this established with the bureaucracy as well as institutions such as EPAC. Critics could say – did say – that Hawke&#8217;s corporatism was undemocratic; that the right venue for such deal-making was not behind closed doors, but within Parliament under public scrutiny.</p>
  122. <p>But shouldn&#8217;t governments set agendas both inside and outside Parliament? Indeed the Howard government&#8217;s failure to do so damaged both the quality of its governance and ultimately its own long-term political saleability. In any event, whatever extra-parliamentary institutions and pressures an accord can produce, Parliament retains its role in forming governments and passing laws.</p>
  123. <p>Indeed, at a time when the executive so dominates Parliament, when political debate is so rarely permitted to rise above the relentless infotainment values of the media, one can argue that Hawke&#8217;s centrist corporatism enriched our deliberative democracy. Although invitations to the table were at the grace and favour of the government, the conversation once there was a genuine search for solutions, something that has become increasingly rare within the stage-managed public theatre of Parliament and party political combat. And once established within the Accord framework, politically difficult policy objectives like wage restraint were then sold to constituencies by the Accord partners.</p>
  124. <p>But, as its period in power lengthened, the bureaucracy&#8217;s proximity to senior politicians ensured that its influence grew at the cost of others. Australia has a first-class bureaucracy and Treasury, the central bank and central agencies typically provide first-class advice. But it&#8217;s in the nature of such agencies to promote strong orthodoxies which can blindside them and those they advise. By the end of the ALP&#8217;s reign, economic reform had become formulaic and it had become all too easy for the defenders of the formula to mistake those arguing for new developments of those policies as their opponents.</p>
  125. <p>Instead of letting it slowly atrophy, an alternative course was for the Accord to have deepened, for instance by broadening its agenda and its make-up. Its purposes would have changed as the issues changed; for instance, its role in wages policy would necessarily have been scaled back as enterprise bargaining spread. It would, however, have been an ideal vehicle within which to negotiate a wage-tax-trade-off of the kind discussed above.</p>
  126. <p>While we debate across the trenches between left and right using weapons crafted from the experience of the US, England and New Zealand, there&#8217;s a strange beam in our eye about Ireland. In fighting its way out of the economic despond of 17% unemployment in 1987, Ireland emulated Australia. Like us, Ireland embraced fiscal and wage restraint and it did so with an accord between government, employees and employers. But, as our Accord withered and was duly dispatched upon Howard&#8217;s victory in 1996, Ireland&#8217;s social partnership grew in stature and now enjoys bipartisan support. Since 1987, Ireland has roughly doubled our own impressive per capita economic growth. It was one of Europe&#8217;s poorest countries. It&#8217;s now one of its richest.</p>
  127. <p>The idea that innovation in practical affairs might be central to Australia&#8217;s destiny has deep roots in our history. In the late 1930s, Australian economic statistician Colin Clark expressed his own ambitions in response to John Maynard Keynes&#8217; entreaties to Clark to return to England.</p>
  128. <blockquote><p>I am reaching the conclusion I want to stay in Australia. People have minds which are not closed to new truths, as the minds of so many Englishmen are: and with all the mistakes Australia has made in the past, I still think she may show the world, in economics . . . .</p></blockquote>
  129. <p>By the mid-1990s, we were showing the world, which watched and imitated our best innovations &#8212; HECS, the Child Support Agency, Rural Research and Development Corporations, welfare targeting, and the list goes on. But the atrophying of the Accord, and the loss of political confidence engendered by the early &#8217;90s recession (and Keating&#8217;s more divisive style?) robbed us of confidence to build imaginatively on that accomplishment.</p>
  130. <p>Today, after a long detour from which we might surely have hoped for more, the possibility presents itself anew. Though, as usual, we&#8217;re sceptical, the government&#8217;s exploratory 2020 Summit at least suggests an appetite for the challenge. Hawke&#8217;s two summits attracted similar scepticism before their event. But both were the beginning, not the end of a process by which we built the institutions and political culture capable of meeting the challenge.</p>
  131. <p>Let&#8217;s hope we can do so again, and that both political parties come to sustain the effort for decades to come.</p>
  132. ]]></content:encoded>
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  134. <slash:comments>5</slash:comments>
  135. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32854</post-id> </item>
  136. <item>
  137. <title>George RR Martin just reminded us of the horrors of war and our role in them.</title>
  138. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/15/george-rr-martin-just-reminded-us-of-the-horrors-of-war-and-our-role-in-them/</link>
  139. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/15/george-rr-martin-just-reminded-us-of-the-horrors-of-war-and-our-role-in-them/#comments</comments>
  140. <pubDate>Wed, 15 May 2019 11:43:32 +0000</pubDate>
  141. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Paul Frijters]]></dc:creator>
  142. <category><![CDATA[Cultural Critique]]></category>
  143. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  144. <category><![CDATA[Ethics]]></category>
  145. <category><![CDATA[Films and TV]]></category>
  146. <category><![CDATA[Geeky Musings]]></category>
  147. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  148. <category><![CDATA[Law]]></category>
  149. <category><![CDATA[Life]]></category>
  150. <category><![CDATA[Literature]]></category>
  151. <category><![CDATA[Media]]></category>
  152. <category><![CDATA[Print media]]></category>
  153. <category><![CDATA[Religion]]></category>
  154. <category><![CDATA[Social Policy]]></category>
  155. <category><![CDATA[Society]]></category>
  156. <category><![CDATA[Theatre]]></category>
  157.  
  158. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32843</guid>
  159. <description><![CDATA[Episode 5 of the final season of Game of Thrones showed us a vengeful fallen angle, Daenerys Targaryen, after whom thousands of children in the real world have been named. Even though her enemies had been defeated and surrendered, she &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/15/george-rr-martin-just-reminded-us-of-the-horrors-of-war-and-our-role-in-them/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  160. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Episode 5 of the final season of Game of Thrones showed us a vengeful fallen angle, Daenerys Targaryen, after whom thousands of children in the real world have been named. Even though her enemies had been defeated and surrendered, she nevertheless used her massive weapon, a fire-spewing dragon, to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. We get to experience this from the point of view of the victims who are incinerated: men, women, and children.</p>
  161. <p>I see this episode as the crowning moment of George Martin&#8217;s career. He wrote the books and scenarios on which the tv-series is based. He has shown us and told us about the cruel side of humanity time and time again, but many of us did not take this personally. To worm his way into our minds, he gave us a heroine who overcame sexual abuse and umpteenth set-backs to become a powerful ruler who did many good things.</p>
  162. <p>Daenerys liberated the slaves of an entire region. She helped defeat an army of ice zombies who otherwise would have killed everyone on the continent of Westeros and turned it into a zombie wasteland, thus saving all the generations to come. She hence saved hundreds of millions of lives, losing many of her best friends and allies in the process, risks she knowingly took. Those are good deeds of the highest order. She was and to some extent will remain, on balance, a heroine.</p>
  163. <p>But throughout her on-screen struggles these last 10 years she was ruthless, not blinking an eye when her brother was killed by having molten gold poured over him, crucifying hundreds of ‘slave masters’ as punishment for their actions. The noble side of her character was fanned by adulation of freed slaves and warm relationships with her closest friends, Melisandre and Jorah. Their influence tempered her continuous preparedness to use her children, three fully grown fire-spewing dragons, to lay waste to the bastions of her enemies.</p>
  164. <p>When her closest friends died, two of her dragons were killed, and her role in saving the whole of humanity on Westeros did not bring her the adulation and love she so desired, Daenerys did exactly what she had promised to do and was foretold to do in all previous seasons. She broke the game of power in Westeros and turned its biggest city to ashes. She did it partly out of revenge, partly in order to instill fear and thus loyalty, and partly out of a ruthless bloodlust that ran in her family and in herself.</p>
  165. <p>Letting us, the audience, get so close to Daenerys and all her emotional ups and downs throughout the years, has made many of us feel we have partly done all the good things she did. George RR Martin trapped us in her story by letting us see her develop and gain what we also crave: connection, appreciation, redemption, love, lust, and, above all, power. Many of us excused her excesses and coldness, ignoring all the warnings and prophesies, not because we did not recognise this potential in her or even ourselves, but because she was the symbol of how we want to see ourselves. We were made to trust that she would never give in to seeing everyone as expendable in her drive to rule.</p>
  166. <p>Now George RR Martin has sprung his trap and confronted us with what I think he believes is the truth about humanity: in our desire for power we are prepared to do anything to anyone. All the rationalisations and moralising about who we are and why we do things ultimately will make way for our drive to power when the opportunity for power comes. Power blinds us and, particularly when the drive to it costs us emotionally, it estranges us from others and makes us do things we initially never imagine we would be capable of.</p>
  167. <p>It is this shattering of the image of ourselves that is so unsettling. We are made to realise who was always behind the mirror.</p>
  168. <p>There has been mass disappointment among fans. In their bewilderment at being told that this is not merely how their hero is, but how they themselves all are, they go through the phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining.<span id="more-32843"></span></p>
  169. <p>The disappointment of the fans shows you how successful George has been in springing his trap (and in the amazing ability of HBO to have kept it a secret so long). The fans latch on to accusations of how the tv-makers have cheated them by rushing the story, not flagging enough that this was coming, betraying the essential character, or something else. The reason for this denial and rationalisation is obvious: they wanted to be allowed to distance themselves from Daenerys and hence not experience what they have just experienced &#8211; the momentary realisation that what she did is in all of us. The horror of war is the horror of what we are all prepared to do to others in our lust for power. We suffer when others do this to us and we inflict the suffering when we do it. Just for a moment George RR Martin has truly managed to drive home the message he has told us ever since the first episode some 10 years ago: power blinds all of us and corrupts most of us, except a few fools who get themselves and others killed by their naivete (Ned and John).</p>
  170. <p>Well done George, you have spent your artistic life well. You have managed to engender a realisation amongst millions, however temporary, that humans in modern societies have not often had and that they quickly forget after their brief glimpses of it.</p>
  171. <p>Just after World War I was another such moment. We knew that Great War was due to human stupidity. It was recognised as being a stupidity that belonged to all of us, not merely the elites who decided. We knew the leaders were stupid in sleepwalking into that war. We knew the soldiers were stupid for enthusiastically walking to their deaths and empowering their leaders by their obedience. We knew whole populations were stupid for being so full of themselves and so hell-bent in imposing their collective will on other people that they cheered on both leaders and soldiers, giving neither of them a choice but to follow-up on the collective stupidity. Power lust blinded whole populations and lead them to gas, bomb, maim, and shoot each other in unimaginable orgies of destruction. For a brief moment afterwards, surrounded by cripples and widows, we knew. In that moment, we vowed never to forget.</p>
  172. <p>Yet, we forgot quickly. The truth was replaced by parades of glorious soldiers professing how noble their cause was, organised by elites that wanted the population to keep empowering and obeying them, egged on by populations that wanted to believe in their collective glory and infallibility. The window for truth was short because humans in modern societies are trained to be blind to their own powerlust. That blindness is part and parcel of a society where we are nicer to others within our society than we need to be prepared to be towards enemies outside that society. That duality is solved by having most people believe they would not be violent and ruthless unless it is for a just cause. The lie that we are all fluffy bunnies to some degree ceases to be a lie when it comes to our behaviour inside our group. Yet, we normally do not really look closely at whether the cause is just when we murder the enemies outside. We behave like feral beasts to outsiders, but we try not to know.</p>
  173. <p>Yet, our power lust remains undiminished. We are not fluffy bunnies. Our desire for power is what makes us cheer on and identify with powerful rulers on screen, no matter what they do. When we see films about him, we forgive Alexander the Great his great cruelty, which included the burning and rape of entire cities, because we imagine ourselves to be him and have that power. We fawn over stories of Henry VIII with his many wives because we revel in the idea that we are also so powerful and adulated, conveniently blotting out the fact that he was a genocidal murderer on whose orders the North of England was pillaged. We cheer on ‘our leaders’ when we look at war films, choosing not to remember things like the bombing of Cambodia or the genocide of the Khoisan. We cheer on butchers because, in the end, the power attracts us more than the butchering repels us. That doesn&#8217;t make us evil, it is just who we are. It is the job of artists to remind us. It is the job of those who devise the institutions of society to keep that truth in the front of their minds.</p>
  174. <p>George Martin for a moment shattered our collective illusions. Thank you to George and to the thousands who helped him spring his trap. You reminded us of who we really are and of the human costs of what the game of power does to us. Lest we forget.</p>
  175. ]]></content:encoded>
  176. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/15/george-rr-martin-just-reminded-us-of-the-horrors-of-war-and-our-role-in-them/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  177. <slash:comments>25</slash:comments>
  178. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32843</post-id> </item>
  179. <item>
  180. <title>Guest Post by Peter Dempster: A novel voting strategy for centrists</title>
  181. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/14/guest-post-by-peter-dempster-a-novel-voting-strategy-for-centrists/</link>
  182. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/14/guest-post-by-peter-dempster-a-novel-voting-strategy-for-centrists/#comments</comments>
  183. <pubDate>Tue, 14 May 2019 07:30:31 +0000</pubDate>
  184. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  185. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  186. <category><![CDATA[Politics - national]]></category>
  187.  
  188. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32840</guid>
  189. <description><![CDATA[Peter Dempster asked me to post this follow-up post to an earlier one of his. Nicholas A novel voting strategy for centrists Vote 1 for your preferred party but then do something very unusual – Vote 2 for the opposing party, &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/14/guest-post-by-peter-dempster-a-novel-voting-strategy-for-centrists/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  190. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Peter Dempster asked me to post this follow-up post to <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2018/07/03/a-strategic-voting-proposal-in-defence-of-centrism/">an earlier one of his</a>. Nicholas</p>
  191. <h2>A novel voting strategy for centrists</h2>
  192. <p>Vote 1 for your preferred party but then do something very unusual – Vote 2 for the opposing party, symbolically joining the major parties on your ballot. Make this the trademark vote of the Australian CENTRE, a demand for much less division and much more compromise in Australian politics. 70% of voters agree …<em> political parties should ‘meet in the middle’. </em>(Essential Poll, 18 July 2017)</p>
  193. <p>If we can’t do this, how can they?</p>
  194. <table>
  195. <tbody>
  196. <tr>
  197. <td width="274"><strong><em>Either:</em></strong> <span style="color: #ff0000"><strong>Vote 1 for LABOR</strong></span><br />
  198. &amp; <span style="color: #0000ff"><strong>Vote 2 for LIBERAL/NATIONAL</strong></span></td>
  199. <td width="293"><strong><em>Or:</em></strong> <span style="color: #0000ff"><strong>Vote 1 for LIBERAL/NATIONAL</strong></span><br />
  200. &amp; <span style="color: #ff0000"><strong>Vote 2 for LABOR</strong></span></td>
  201. </tr>
  202. </tbody>
  203. </table>
  204. <p>If you Vote 1 for a minor party or independent, consider joining the major parties further down your ballot, say, at 2+3 or 3+4.</p>
  205. <p>CENTRE votes will be detected in poll results – polling station by polling station, suburb by suburb. Such that Australia’s CENTRE can stand up and actually be counted, not divisively assigned to one party or another as ‘their’ voters. Only 18% of Australians say they identify with either the left or right wings of politics.</p>
  206. <p>Most importantly, CENTRE votes suggest a readiness to flip, a quiet threat to unseat the most divisive politicians.<span id="more-32840"></span></p>
  207. <p>It’s a symbolic vote but symbols are essential. Flags are symbols; hi-vis vests and school uniforms are symbols; hair styles and tattoos; handshakes and signatures; hugs and kisses. Putting the other party last, as instructed by each party’s how-to-vote, is also a symbol. But a symbol of disgust and mistrust, which is not what most of us want to say to each other; only 18% of voters identify with either left-wing or right-wing politics. So, on 18 May, let’s rally ourselves, come together, look around to find we are not alone, realise the strength in our numbers; proclaim the CENTRE from both sides of politics. It’s the start of a long road back to where we need to be.</p>
  208. <p>It is important to vote CENTRE for the Senate, not just the House of Representatives. There is an exhaustive reporting of Senate preferences, such that the CENTRE vote can be fully documented.</p>
  209. <p>The Senate ballot paper can be challenging. If you need a cheat sheet in the polling booth, you will find how-to-votes at thecentrevotes.org.  There are always three: one each for those who Vote 1 LABOR, those who Vote 1 LIBERAL/NATIONAL, and those who vote minor party or independent. All can adopt some version of the CENTRE vote, declaring what they have in common, not just how they differ.</p>
  210. <p>Then what happens?</p>
  211. <p>The CENTRE’s objective is to establish a political audience and constituency that is neither left wing nor right wing. Such that pollsters take an interest in what CENTRE voters think, rather than assign us to a party – LABOR, LIBERAL, GREEN and so forth. Political journalists do more stories that interest the CENTRE, focusing on the pre-selection, behaviour and abilities of individual politicians in respect of <em>… meeting in the middle</em>. Politicians better understand they must appeal to the CENTRE, most importantly, by creating non-partisan processes and institutions to resolve the many difficult issues that we face. Thus, a rejuvenated, and depoliticised public service, genuine public consultation, anti-corruption commission, evaluator general, independent commissions to deal objectively with tough issues, fewer rollouts of half-baked policies a few weeks or days before elections.</p>
  212. <p>The CENTRE may need a ‘big stick’ of the kind favoured by Teddy Roosevelt <em>… speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far …</em> to jointly threaten the careers of divisive politicians on both sides of politics. That requires more political innovation and will take some organising. Importantly, however, the CENTRE will have expressed a need felt on both sides of politics.</p>
  213. ]]></content:encoded>
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  215. <slash:comments>3</slash:comments>
  216. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32840</post-id> </item>
  217. <item>
  218. <title>History and economics: it was all there in the beginning …</title>
  219. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/07/history-and-economics-it-was-all-there-in-the-beginning/</link>
  220. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/07/history-and-economics-it-was-all-there-in-the-beginning/#comments</comments>
  221. <pubDate>Tue, 07 May 2019 04:02:45 +0000</pubDate>
  222. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  223. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  224.  
  225. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32831</guid>
  226. <description><![CDATA[&#60;SelfIndulgenceAlert&#62;Stuart MacIntyre was kind enough to suggest me as a discussant on a paper on financial deregulation in the 1980s in a workshop focusing on Australia and the Bretton Woods conference put on by Melbourne Uni History and Economic History. &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/05/07/history-and-economics-it-was-all-there-in-the-beginning/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  227. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>&lt;SelfIndulgenceAlert&gt;Stuart MacIntyre was kind enough to suggest me as a discussant on a paper on financial deregulation in the 1980s in a workshop focusing on Australia and the Bretton Woods conference put on by Melbourne Uni History and Economic History. (Yes I know it&#8217;s a little unclear how the 1980s get involved but there you go – this was the unpicking of the institutions Australia built around the Bretton Woods arrangements). In any event, after reading a fair bit of history for the workshop and talking to historians,  economic historians and economists over two evenings I checked out some work I did for my PhD and was quite taken with it. I never know whether I&#8217;ll think something I&#8217;ve written in the past is good or not when I return to it years later. Anyway, dear reader, I was pleased with my trip down memory lane. I was also surprised at how little the basic tone of what I&#8217;d written had changed.</p>
  228. <p>Anyway, I then thought I&#8217;d go back to my grad dip thesis, which I recall writing when I&#8217;d worked out a lot less. But one thing amazed me. For a long time I&#8217;ve been aware of the fact that, though I got some training in economics, the only education I ever got was in history. It was through doing history that I was first brought face to face with that thing that Steve Jobs mentions which is that at some stage in your life you realise that this vast info structure was built by other people just like you – just as fallible as you.</p>
  229. <p>Of course it sounds obvious, but if it&#8217;s properly <em>felt </em>or experienced then it can have an impact. In any event I fell in love with the way in which, when it is good, history involves theoretical reflection on the practice of history in the process of practicing it. Any discipline could be like this, but few are. In virtually every discipline you do – whether in the social or the natural sciences – you can do the &#8220;philosophy of&#8221; course, but they&#8217;re usually pretty lame in my experience precisely because they&#8217;re an add on. In any event economics is about as bad as it comes in that regard.</p>
  230. <p>Indeed it&#8217;s the only one I know of in which &#8216;theory&#8217; doesn&#8217;t mean what it means as I&#8217;ve adverted to it above. It means formal models and the equivalent of &#8216;practice&#8217; is empirical work. Reflection on questions like &#8216;what criteria determine what a good model is?&#8217;, &#8216;how much of economics is falsifiable in principle and how much is in practice, and what if very little of it is in practice?&#8217;. Is the analytical process of working out what the right economic policy is more like the engineering steps needed to get a person to the moon and back or working out how to win a football game (Hint: I think the answer is the latter, but that&#8217;s another post?). Well you can go and do a unit of &#8216;The Philosophy of Economics&#8221; but best of luck getting help with those questions.</p>
  231. <p>I reflected a little on this in <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2017/09/03/my-60th-birthday-let-the-record-show/">a speech I gave</a> a couple of years ago. In any event, going back to the preface of my grad dip – written in the late(ish) eighties, it turns out that it was all there – way back then. To do economics using the skills that history had taught me, and that were vanishingly rare in economics. The zen of trying to open one&#8217;s mind. Anyway, the preface to my Grad Dip thesis – on my experiences in car industry policy is over the fold.</p>
  232. <p>Oh, one more thing. The preface is my best answer to the pride that economists have in the aggressiveness of their intellectual culture. This is the idea that the stronger the competition – celebrated <a href="https://syntheticassets.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/on-the-value-of-an-aggressive-academic-culture/">here</a> – the better because it imposes stronger selection pressure in the market for ideas all the better to select the fittest ideas. I can only say I&#8217;ve never experienced that. It&#8217;s true that within some formally defined world one person can often by right, the other wrong. But most argument actually requires the skills of listening and searching for common understandings at least as much as it requires contest around disagreement. And that&#8217;s even true of a lot of argument about technical matters, which degenerate surprisingly often into some subtle misunderstanding.  <span id="more-32831"></span></p>
  233. <blockquote><p>This paper would not be the way it is without certain influences.</p>
  234. <p>My participation in formulating policy for the Australian automotive industry from 1983 till 1985 while working as private secretary to Senator John Button and consultant to the Automotive Industry Authority dictates the basic subject matter. Influences on my method have been less direct.</p>
  235. <p>A degree of familiarity with some of the central ideas of the &#8216;theory&#8217; of social inquiry and knowledge acquired as an historian showed me why the rationality with which one pursues inquiry and knowledge &#8211; particularly in the social sciences &#8211; is inescapably and profoundly problematic. The reason for this is quite simple. Any model and any analytic apparatus actively selects, and by describing, identifies and organises facts and associates them with each other in explicitly stated or metaphorically suggested relationships of various kinds. On this foundation measurement, analysis and interpretation proceed. While this is necessary to acquiring the benefits of analysis and improved understanding, the selection, organisation and description of facts in one way necessarily excludes alternatives.</p>
  236. <p>Where the limitations of analysis go unrecognised, there arises the risk of what (I think)<sup class='footnote'><a href='#fn-32831-1' id='fnref-32831-1' onclick='return fdfootnote_show(32831)'>1</a></sup> Veblen called &#8216;trained incapacity&#8217;, which, in this instance will take the form of an analytical training which provides the benefits of analysis at the (possibly heavy) price of blindness to the necessary limitations and inherent selectiveness &#8211; and so myopia &#8211; of a particular analytic system. In this sense the essay is a plea for methodological toleration and arises from my experiences in learning about the car industry.</p>
  237. <p>I arrived on the scene a confirmed &#8220;Rattigan man&#8221;. Indeed it is not stretching the point to say that I was brought up as one! So the industry&#8217;s calls for assistance were all explicable to me as expressions of self-interest. Nevertheless, I made it my business to prick up my ears whenever I was surprised by something. Here, just as was the case with historical research, my surprises provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my assumptions. When a senior Toyota executive said to me that his company wanted to know what the government wanted so that Toyota could do it, that surprised me very much. That wasn&#8217;t quite how companies were supposed to express their interests. Given the state of the Japanese industry <em>vis </em><em>a vis </em>our. own, I treated these ideas with respect. Slowly, I began to see things differently. When industry representatives argued for assistance of various kinds I began to see that, sure enough this was an expression of self interest, but that this was not the whole story. it was also a consequence of the practical conditions existing within what economists call &#8216;imperfectly competitive&#8217; markets.</p>
  238. <p>I started to see the &#8216;inside&#8217; of a story in which I had previously been an outsider. The experience was not unlike the opening of interpretive doors in history. Bailyn had a similar sort of experience studying the pamphlets of the American revolution.</p>
  239. <p style="padding-left: 30px">[T]hey are, to an unusual degree<em>, explanatory</em><strong>.… </strong>They reveal not merely positions taken; they reveal motive and understanding. …  And I found myself viewing the[m] with surprise, for the &#8216;interior view&#8217;, from the vantage point of the pamphlets was different from what I had expected.<sup class='footnote'><a href='#fn-32831-2' id='fnref-32831-2' onclick='return fdfootnote_show(32831)'>2</a></sup></p>
  240. <p>I came more and more to see the &#8216;IAC line&#8217; as a partial perspective on the economics of the industry. Industry&#8217;s view was perhaps even more so, frequently involving a simple failure to understand or listen to IAC arguments, or even to try putting itself in the place of a government which, whatever its motives, must seek some consistency and fairness in its decision making. There seemed to be a fairly desperate need to do whatever was possible to put the two views together, or at least to initiate some genuine dialogue between the two worlds. I have attempted that in this paper.&lt;/SelfIndulgenceAlert&gt;</p></blockquote>
  241. <div class='footnotes' id='footnotes-32831'>
  242. <div class='footnotedivider'></div>
  243. <ol>
  244. <li id='fn-32831-1'> You can tell this is before the world wide web! <span class='footnotereverse'><a href='#fnref-32831-1'>&#8617;</a></span></li>
  245. <li id='fn-32831-2'> Bailyn, B. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, Mass, 1967, p. vi. Emphasis in the original <span class='footnotereverse'><a href='#fnref-32831-2'>&#8617;</a></span></li>
  246. </ol>
  247. </div>
  248. ]]></content:encoded>
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  250. <slash:comments>7</slash:comments>
  251. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32831</post-id> </item>
  252. <item>
  253. <title>Six tough institutional challenges this century</title>
  254. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/30/six-tough-institutional-challenges-this-century/</link>
  255. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/30/six-tough-institutional-challenges-this-century/#comments</comments>
  256. <pubDate>Mon, 29 Apr 2019 16:06:54 +0000</pubDate>
  257. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Paul Frijters]]></dc:creator>
  258. <category><![CDATA[Climate Change]]></category>
  259. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  260. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  261. <category><![CDATA[Education]]></category>
  262. <category><![CDATA[Environment]]></category>
  263. <category><![CDATA[Ethics]]></category>
  264. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  265. <category><![CDATA[Libertarian Musings]]></category>
  266. <category><![CDATA[Politics - international]]></category>
  267. <category><![CDATA[Politics - national]]></category>
  268. <category><![CDATA[Religion]]></category>
  269. <category><![CDATA[Science]]></category>
  270. <category><![CDATA[Social]]></category>
  271. <category><![CDATA[Social Policy]]></category>
  272. <category><![CDATA[Society]]></category>
  273.  
  274. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32821</guid>
  275. <description><![CDATA[In 1900, the modern nation states of Europe faced many challenges in terms of how they were run, with poverty and disease still prevalent. The largest problems were more or less successfully addressed by 2000. The road involved world wars &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/30/six-tough-institutional-challenges-this-century/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  276. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>In 1900, the modern nation states of Europe faced many challenges in terms of how they were run, with poverty and disease still prevalent. The largest problems were more or less successfully addressed by 2000. The road involved world wars and civil wars, but the essential recipe to the problems prevalent in 1900 has been found and implemented in most countries in Europe. In turn that recipe has been copied in many other places.</p>
  277. <p>The problem of how to organise the economy has been addressed via the mixed-market system and the general organisation of a national bureaucracy in large semi-autonomous institutions with specific roles, such as national police systems and national water supply systems.</p>
  278. <p>The problem of how to get legitimacy in the whole system and turnover amongst the elites has been largely solved by the universal democratic franchise, a non-religious non-ethnic story telling national identity, and a basic safety net for all.</p>
  279. <p>The problems of low health and low productivity in the general population have largely been solved via national health services and free state-organised education.</p>
  280. <p>The problem of over-militarisation and a highly disruptive nobility class oriented around land rents has been solved in Western Europe by having most of them killed or displaced by two World Wars. We have also outsourced the gravity point of the military to the Americans, greatly increased human capital investments, and been lucky to have had few natural resources. Combined, they have prevented the production of lots of new barons.</p>
  281. <p>What are the main challenges facing European countries today in terms of how our societies are organised? How might these challenges be addressed? Let us not bother with small stuff like Brexit or fake news, which are basically historical blips and part of the ongoing theater of politics, but only talk about general challenges to our survival and quality of life.</p>
  282. <p>One challenge is that of the internet to national identity, national taxation, and national truths. Our countries face the problem that the population in many ways lives and trades online in an international no-man’s land that is conducive to internationalism, tax avoidance, and the creation of truths on the basis of economic interests and religious ideologies rather than national interest.<span id="more-32821"></span></p>
  283. <p>I suspect that the route now explored in Russia and China is going to win out, which is the emergence in each large region of a bureaucracy that controls the important aspects of the internet as pertaining to that country or region. This partly involves a nationalisation of some of the key functions now performed by private companies (search functions, social networking, market places), as well as the establishment of a national internet police service and a national internet identification service. You see a lot of steps in this direction.</p>
  284. <p>We cannot know how this nationalisation of the internet will go, but I suspect that we will end up with a system whereby anyone on the internet will have to wear a unique nationally-distributed device that identifies them and their activities. I am thinking of a biometric identification device that will unlock financial, democratic, and other functions on the internet, but that is of course also related to their taxes and propaganda behaviour.</p>
  285. <p>A quite different challenge is that of climate change and other international environmental problems like too much plastic in the oceans and too few fish.The ‘old approach’ of letting someone own the common resource (the oceans or the climate) is unlikely to work. The ‘obvious approach’ of having a world empire in which a world bureaucracy enforces an international solution is unlikely to emerge because I think nation states will continue to win the political battle for hearts and minds, beating all international ideologies, as nation states have done in the previous 500 years.</p>
  286. <p>I suspect that we will see coalition-of-the-willing engineering solutions to many of these problems. As a non-engineer I can only take a wild guess at just what the winning solutions will look like. The way the marine scientists in Australia are now planning to essentially (genetically) engineer a heat-resistant Great Barrier Reef ecosystem is a good example for how I think lots of other environmental challenges will actually be tackled.</p>
  287. <p>I imagine autonomous vessels with artificial intelligence that roam around the oceans to collect the surplus plastic, organised by a UN-type organisation.</p>
  288. <p>I imagine huge national marine ponds floating in the oceans to spawn fish and other marine life, with larger water territories emerging on the basis of regional cooperation, perhaps slowly converging on global cooperation.</p>
  289. <p>I imagine groups of large countries combining to pump reflective aerosols into the higher atmosphere to cool down the planet, resisted by other countries who want it to be warmer.</p>
  290. <p>I foresee both national and regional attempts to preserve and increase biodiversity, including the creation of new species (“how much diversity do you want? Labs can provide!”).</p>
  291. <p>Hence I suspect we will get a patchwork of specific alliances that try engineering solutions to specific global environmental problems.</p>
  292. <p>Another challenge is that of the disconnect between mobile international elites and the majority populations of the nation states. This problem has exacerbated elite tax evasion, attacks on the stories of national identity, widening inequality, and political corruption on a scale not seen after WWII.</p>
  293. <p>I suspect that we will see broadly the same solution to this in the 21<sup>st</sup> century as we saw to a quite similar problem of elite-disconnect in the early 1900s: political strife resembling civil war culminating in the renewed supremacy of the national project as the dominant political organising force. I just cannot see any form of internationalism supplanting the nation states, though we might get large blocks of nation states becoming more and more like nation states.</p>
  294. <p>The challenge for those who mean well is not how to stop the coming wave of nationalism, but rather how to channel it in a way that maximises it benefits and minimises its damage. It might be that we go the Swiss route to involve populations much more in their own national stories via much more participative democracy. We might go the Chinese social-shaming route wherein everyone, including the elites, have a running social score telling the others how well they are behaving. We might get fascist utopias wherein a small elite enforces a very narrow conception of scientific and genetic purity on a whole population. We might get wild experimentation of hybrid humanoids and AI systems given the responsibility to look after the rest of the country.</p>
  295. <p>I think that there will be a great pull towards new systems that are seen to work in other countries, which at the moment means the systems in Northern and Central Europe. If they can show how to rope their elites back into the national fold, then I can see their examples getting a lot of traction elsewhere. The Dutch and German approach of mandating a limit to the incomes of the managers of state-connected institutions is an important example of new attempts to force the elites back into the fold.</p>
  296. <p>Yet another challenge is the continued increase in the number of ways in which small groups can kill billions of people by design and by accident, via the proliferation of nuclear technology as well as cheaper biological and artificial intelligence systems.</p>
  297. <p>I suspect we won’t do anything serious about this until at least one of these risks materialises in a big way, such as via a nuclear attack by an extremist group, a mistake, or a run-away AI experiment that manages to provoke a large-scale military conflict costing millions of lives. Even then, I suspect the solution will be very much hap-hazard and oriented towards the exact nature of the catastrophe, ie a band-aid.</p>
  298. <p>It is hard to see a general solution to this general problem emerge because national sovereignty and the strong incentives for leaders to grand-stand will be in the way of any more permanent solution that would require countries and elites to give up their power. I thus suspect this problem will not be solved this century and will be part of the luggage of the next one.</p>
  299. <p>My anticipated ‘solution’ in the long-long-run is the emergence of actual gods that will rule us and whom the human survivors will worship, ie the end of nation state supremacy and the emergence of a pluralist theocracy in which humans are no longer the dominant entities. However, that’s a highly uncertain future possibility and part of a larger and different conversation.</p>
  300. <p>Another international challenge is that the areas of the world producing more children are those with the least well-run governments, leading to a massive and disruptive migration flow from poor to rich, threatening the social integrity of some destination countries. In turn, this migration takes away the pressure on the elites in the countries from which they come to really reform.</p>
  301. <p>I see a combination of three factors that might solve this: i) dropping fertility rates even in the poorest and worse-run countries due to things like the increased presence of the internet and mobile technology, which in turn increases the returns to educational investment everywhere, which in turn makes kids expensive; ii) special economic zones in other continents set up by Western countries and China that effectively become well-run colonies that absorb most of the local migrants (pretty much like Hong Kong and Macau in previous centuries) ; iii) continued globalisation of languages and culture that will reduce the cultural distances which will reduce the disruption associated with migration flows making people in richer countries less bothered about in-bound migration.</p>
  302. <p>Finally, there are the dangers to world peace emanating from flaws to the political institutions of the main super-powers, with two main sub-problems that I see as the biggest threats: America will have to get used to its lost dominance, and China is inherently politically unstable because it lacks a separation of powers. This is really tricky. Very few realise that both problems exist and are serious; neither the Americans or the Chinese want to acknowledge the problem, making a transparent solution to them impossible; and I do not see historical solutions to either type of problem that did not involve large-scale blood-letting. They are design flaws, one inherent to national pride, and the other to collectivist empires.</p>
  303. <p>I am not aware of an historical instance where dominant nation states learned to get comfortable with being subservient without getting a bloody nose, or worse. The UK didn’t stop dreaming about its Empire till the Americans forced them to back down in the Suez crisis of the 1950s and even now some of the UK elites dream of the glory days at the expense of the present. French wounded pride was partially responsible for the Second World War via their insistence on German humiliation in the treaty of Versailles. It took a devastating defeat with millions of casualties to get the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires to get used to their lower status. Etc.</p>
  304. <p>Similarly, the Chinese political system never learned in their more than 2,000 year history as an imperial bureaucracy to avoid major civil wars as the only way to have significant leadership change. The Chinese suffer from an inherent problem with collectivist winner-take-all decision making systems, which is the lack of a separation of powers that makes it impossible for a previous elite to be secure in some of their property rights when a new elite takes over, which in turn makes old elites fight to the death to hold on to power.</p>
  305. <p>From 1945 till now there were three large internal Chinese conflicts directly caused by power-struggles at the top: the communist takeover of 1949; the Great Leap forward of 1960; and the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s.</p>
  306. <p>Part of the problem is that the Chinese are not taught in school that they lost over 50 million people last century because of elite power struggles. For instance, instead of being told that the Great Leap forward was a Mao-induced disaster that cost 30 million people, they are told there was unusual weather in that period leading to famines. There is hence no open awareness of the flaws in their political system.</p>
  307. <p>The tell-tale sign of increased pressure at the top is an ideological purity drive, invariably invoked by a threatened incumbent elite faction to marginalise another one. Mao in the late 1950s inflicted an ideology of a Great Leap Forward, and then in the Cultural Revolution inflicted the ideology of his little red booklet. Both heralded disasters.</p>
  308. <p>The Chinese were lucky in the late 1970s to be led by Deng Xiaoping who managed to get the Chinese Communist Party to adopt a system of gradual elite renewal that worked from 1980 to 2010, but with his death the natural tendency of winner-takes-all politics has been re-established.</p>
  309. <p>Xi Jiping has consolidated ultimate power in his hands and that of the group around him, just as Mao did in the 1950s. Mao needed a catastrophe every 10 years to fend off the opponents. With the death of Deng Xiaoping and his pragmatism, the Chinese leadership has now returned to ideological slogans of the Mao era.</p>
  310. <p>Mao used purity drives to mobilise idealistic young people against political opponents. There are indications a new conflict is brewing right now, with a new ‘social virtue’ drive sweeping through China. It probably won&#8217;t get too bad whilst growth is easy, but the inherent instability is there.</p>
  311. <p>So the odds are that the US problem will cost other countries a lot of lives and the Chinese will continue to have civil strife from time to time. I don’t think there is much we can do about either, so let us hope we are lucky and that both will be contained.</p>
  312. <p>On the whole, I am optimistic about this century, with many indicators of humanity’s progress looking very healthy indeed. Our population levels are likely to stabilise; our ability to feed ourselves looks guaranteed; poverty rates are falling; the incentives to be nice to each other keeps increasing due to the increased connections between our economies; and we are likely to live much longer too. The main dangers come from the same place as the solutions: technology and politics.</p>
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  314. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/30/six-tough-institutional-challenges-this-century/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  315. <slash:comments>38</slash:comments>
  316. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32821</post-id> </item>
  317. <item>
  318. <title>Adam Smith was a feminist economist: Care – the essay</title>
  319. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/adam-smith-was-a-feminist-economist-care-the-essay/</link>
  320. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/adam-smith-was-a-feminist-economist-care-the-essay/#comments</comments>
  321. <pubDate>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 02:40:33 +0000</pubDate>
  322. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  323. <category><![CDATA[Cultural Critique]]></category>
  324. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  325. <category><![CDATA[Health]]></category>
  326. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  327. <category><![CDATA[Parenting]]></category>
  328.  
  329. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32805</guid>
  330. <description><![CDATA[This recent essay in the Mandarin is a reworking of an essay I wrote in 2016 in a string of essays in which I developed the idea of the Evaluator General. I was following Gary Sturgess&#8217; suggestion that governments should not think of themselves as producing &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/adam-smith-was-a-feminist-economist-care-the-essay/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  331. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><img class="detail__media__img-highres js-detail-img js-detail-img-high alignleft" src="https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thoughtco.com%2Fthmb%2FZaDavS9GHLzLj1uyYocz6NC8XAM%3D%2F768x0%2Ffilters%3Ano_upscale()%3Amax_bytes(150000)%3Astrip_icc()%2F2661822-56a27db03df78cf77276a649.jpg&amp;f=1" alt="Who Was Adam Smith and What Were His Works?" width="370" height="460" />This recent essay in the <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/103897-nicholas-gruen-care-the-essay/?utm_source=TheJuice&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=newsletter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mandarin</a> is a reworking of <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2016/09/29/care-the-essay/">an essay</a> I wrote in 2016 in a string of essays in which I developed the idea of the Evaluator General. I was following Gary Sturgess&#8217; suggestion that governments should not think of themselves as producing complex services in a market, but rather as stewards of a supply chain as Toyota does. In that context it rather jumps out at one that the challenge isn&#8217;t to identify things that can be contracted out (though that should always be considered part of one&#8217;s repertoire) but to understand and so, try to improve what you&#8217;re doing. Of course the system pretends to do that via various bodgied up KPIs and so on, but the great guilty secret is that we keep restructuring things without attending to the most important thing of all. Knowing what we&#8217;re doing.</p>
  332. <p>Then a chance encounter with a book on <em>The Ethics of Care</em> led me in a new direction which arises from the observation that many systems of government service delivery or funding should be built as systems of care first and markets only to the extent that that makes sense within that broader context. It seems to me that this provides an excellent framework for building and delivering these services.</p>
  333. <p><strong><img class="irc_mi alignright" src="http://www.theemotionmachine.com/wp-content/uploads/circles-of-empathy.jpg" alt="Image result for circles of care" width="384" height="384" />Nicholas Gruen explores ways in which economics marginalises care for others and what an ‘economics of care’ might look like. This fills out part of the intellectual context for <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/101608-nicholas-gruen-evaluator-general-how-we-should-configure-it/">his proposal</a> for an Evaluator General. </strong></p>
  334. <p><span style="font-size: 16px">Late ‘second wave’ feminist Carol Gilligan’s </span><em style="font-size: 16px">1982 book </em><a style="font-size: 16px" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_a_Different_Voice"><em>In a Different Voice</em></a><span style="font-size: 16px"> argued that men’s and women’s ethical frames are different. Men tend to foreground justice and abstract duties or obligations; women empathy and compassion defined in concrete relationships.</span><sup>1</sup><span style="font-size: 16px"> This provided a springboard for ‘care ethics’ which is well summarised in this passage from </span><a style="font-size: 16px" href="http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/25040-the-ethics-of-care-personal-political-global/">a review of</a><span style="font-size: 16px"> Virginia Held’s ‘</span><a style="font-size: 16px" href="https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=azL5BgAAQBAJ&amp;rdid=book-azL5BgAAQBAJ&amp;rdot=1&amp;source=gbs_atb&amp;pcampaignid=books_booksearch_atb">The Ethics of Care</a><span style="font-size: 16px">‘:</span></p>
  335. <div class="_1dwg _1w_m">
  336. <div id="js_29" class="_5pbx userContent">
  337. <p>First, “the focus of the ethics of care is on the compelling moral salience of attending to and meeting the needs of the particular others for whom we take responsibility”. Second, from an epistemological perspective the ethics of care values emotions, and appreciates emotions and relational capabilities that enable morally concerned persons in actual interpersonal contexts to understand what would be best. Third, “the ethics of care rejects the view of the dominant moral theories that the more abstract the reasoning about a moral problem, the better because the more likely [to?] avoid bias and arbitrariness, the more nearly to achieve impartiality. The ethics of care respects rather than removes itself from the claims of particular others with whom we share actual relationships”. Fourth, the ethics of care proposes a novel conceptualization of the distinction between private and public and of their respective importance. Finally, the ethics of care adopts a relational conception of persons, which is in stark contrast to Liberal individualism.</p>
  338. <p>This offers a useful counterpoint to dominant paradigm, awash, as it is with abstraction, universalism, instrumentalism and so, manipulation.<sup>2</sup> So, here are some introductory reflections. We start with Adam Smith whose work is a constant reminder of how <em>few</em> of the intellectual riches he offered grew in modern soil. I then discuss the implications of ‘care ethics’ for what we’re all assured is the ‘market’ in human services. I conclude by asking whether, against the eclipse of this feminine perspective in our culture feminism should have a role in reasserting it alongside its legitimate role as an ideological vehicle for women’s interests in a world that’s unfair to them.</p>
  339. <h2>Adam Smith and the ethics of care</h2>
  340. <p>Adam Smith’s work was built on the ethics of care. He was very urbane and not easily roused to passion. But the two most passionate passages in all his writing are <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2005/10/29/homo-dialecticus-v-why-adam-smith-is-to-markets-what-jane-austen-is-to-marriage%E2%80%9D/">one referring to the tribes of Africa being captured as slaves</a> as “those nations of heroes” and this one:</p>
  341. <blockquote><p>What are the pangs of a mother, when she hears the moanings of her infant that during the agony of disease cannot express what it feels? In her idea of what it suffers, she joins, to its real helplessness, her own consciousness of that helplessness, and her own terrors for the unknown consequences of its disorder and out of all these, forms, for her own sorrow, the most complete <sup>3</sup> image of misery and distress. The infant, however, feels only the uneasiness of the present instant, which can never be great. With regard to the future, it is perfectly secure, and in its thoughtlessness and want of foresight, possesses an antidote against fear and anxiety, the great tormentors of the human breast, from which reason and philosophy will, in vain, attempt to defend it, when it grows up to a man.<sup>4</sup></p></blockquote>
  342. <p>This is philosophy as homage to care.<span id="more-32805"></span>The baby observes its dependence on its closest relations and from fear and love comes to crave approbation and fear disapprobation. The <em>Theory of Moral Sentiments</em> is built up from reflection on how people care for each other—and how they care most for those closest to them. Their care, their sympathy, radiates from them towards others with an intensity which is inversely proportional to their social proximity.<sup>5</sup> Smith built towards universal values via concrete experience. One did not trump the other. But one—the universalist command of principle and policy—trumps the ethics of care today, both in economics and in policy.</p>
  343. <h2>The ‘market’ in human services</h2>
  344. <p>This perspective helps us see that the whole agenda for opening up human services to competition is built on the metaphor of human services as a ‘market’. And what are markets waiting for if not to be opened up? Of course, those weasel words ‘other things being equal’ are thrown about, and given them, who wouldn’t want services opened up?</p>
  345. <p>If one takes markets as the ‘ground’, the place in the chaos at which one sets intellectual anchor and tries to make sense of the world, we end up concluding that, because <em>this</em> market doesn’t meet the preconditions of efficiency, policy should provide them as it opens up service provision. At this point we might it’s reasonable to be suspicious that if the market at the end of our reform efforts will remain profoundly imperfect, reforming the few imperfections we can might not make things better. <sup>6</sup>  Perhaps more to the point, empathy is of the essence in caring relationships. It is, as Smith argued, the principle mode of cognition of one human by another and the sentiment that binds both small and large groups together in a shared culture.<sup>7</sup> Also, it’s integral to the efficacy of direct caring relationships.</p>
  346. <p>Further, in many human services we don’t really know what we’re doing. Though bureaucrats run up benchmarks against which they can administer programs with every sign of pursuing ‘best practice’ and being ‘evidence based’, the KPIs that emerge tend to meet the needs of those who designed them.</p>
  347. <p>They look good on the ‘dashboard’ that’s shown to the minister, who then brandishes it publicly to demonstrate that they’re delivering on their policy. If it’s an employment program like JobActive there’ll be plenty of data about the activities of the program – helping with interviews and job-readiness. If it’s a child protection program there’ll be lots of data about notifications of children at risk, and activities to detect problems and fix them.</p>
  348. <p>But will the data throw light on critical counterfactuals? If it’s Job Active we need to know what would have happened without JobActive – is it helping or just being given credit for what would have happened anyway? If it’s a child protection program are the children being removed from neglectful or abusive parents doing better once removed? Even data from well-functioning private markets – which are generated between buyer and seller – don’t typically throw light on these kinds of system questions. Further questions include these: Will the program measure the right things so that it can generate unfolding insights about how to improve its efficacy, whether its metrics are being gamed and if so how, whether the conditions of the program are changing as it unleashes its own incentives or as other developments unfold and so on?</p>
  349. <p>None of this is to defend arrangements as they are. Indeed I’d offer precisely the same critique of the existing system— that it isn’t generating the kind of information that’s necessary to understand how well it’s working and how to improve it. Put differently, the preeminent task is not to configure ‘the market’ as open or closed but to <em>understand what we’re doing and then try to improve it</em>.</p>
  350. <h2>Alternatives to ‘market’ thinking in human services</h2>
  351. <p>Here is a list of the four ethical elements of care provided by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Tronto">Joan Tronto</a>. From <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_care">Wikipedia</a>:</p>
  352. <ol>
  353. <li><strong>Attentiveness</strong><br />
  354. Attentiveness is crucial to the ethics of care because care requires a recognition of others’ needs in order to respond to them. The question which arises is the distinction between ignorance and inattentiveness. Tronto poses this question as such, “But when is ignorance simply ignorance, and when is it inattentiveness”?</li>
  355. <li><strong>Responsibility</strong><br />
  356. In order to care, we must take it upon ourselves, thus responsibility. The problem associated with this second ethical element of responsibility is the question of obligation. Obligation is often, if not already, tied to pre-established societal and cultural norms and roles. Tronto makes the effort to differentiate the terms “responsibility” and “obligation” with regards to the ethic of care. Responsibility is ambiguous, whereas obligation refers to situations where action or reaction is due, such as the case of a legal contract. This ambiguity allows for ebb and flow in and between class structures and gender roles, and to other socially constructed roles that would bind responsibility to those only befitting of those roles.</li>
  357. <li><strong>Competence</strong><br />
  358. To provide care also means competency. One cannot simply acknowledge the need to care, accept the responsibility, but not follow through with enough adequacy – as such action would result in the need of care not being met.</li>
  359. <li><strong>Responsiveness</strong><br />
  360. This refers to the “responsiveness of the care receiver to the care”. Tronto states, “Responsiveness signals an important moral problem within care: by its nature, care is concerned with conditions of vulnerability and inequality”. She further argues responsiveness does not equal reciprocity. Rather, it is another method to understand vulnerability and inequality by understanding what has been expressed by those in the vulnerable position, as opposed to re-imagining oneself in a similar situation.</li>
  361. </ol>
  362. <p>This seems to me to be a more promising list of considerations than the list of requirements for market efficiency—which are a lot longer than <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/perfectcompetition.asp">this list</a> of requirements for perfect competition:</p>
  363. <ol>
  364. <li>All <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/firm.asp">firms</a> sell an identical product;</li>
  365. <li>All firms are price takers—they cannot control the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/market-price.asp">market price</a> of their product;</li>
  366. <li>All firms have a relatively small market share;</li>
  367. <li>Buyers have complete information about the product being sold and the prices charged by each firm; and</li>
  368. <li>The industry is characterised by freedom of entry and exit. Perfect competition is sometimes referred to as “pure competition”.</li>
  369. </ol>
  370. <p>In this vein, the UK Institute for Government offers <a href="http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/making-public-service-markets-work">a list</a> with some family resemblance to the abstract list from the economics textbook here:</p>
  371. <p>To support effective market stewardship, government departments and other commissioning organisations should:</p>
  372. <ol>
  373. <li>Clarify roles, responsibilities and accountability arrangements</li>
  374. <li>Be more considered, open and flexible in design</li>
  375. <li>Focus on competition, market structure and market dynamics</li>
  376. <li>Increase transparency.</li>
  377. </ol>
  378. <h2>The (masculine) psychopathology of economics and management</h2>
  379. <p>What’s going on here has its analogues in psychology. The book <a href="https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/07/07/love-at-goon-park-harry-harlow-deborah-blum/">Love at Goon Park</a> tells the story of Harry Harlow of the ‘terry towelling’ monkey experiments which rescued Adam Smith’s point from the scientism of mid 20th-century behaviourist psychology:</p>
  380. <p>Professor Harlow has already been asked to correct his language: He’s been instructed on the correct term for a close relationship. Why can’t he just say “proximity” like everyone else? Somehow the word “love” just keeps springing to his lips when he talks about parents and children, friends and partners. He’s been known to lose his temper when discussing it. “Perhaps all you’ve known in life is proximity,” he once snapped at a visitor to his lab at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “I thank God I’ve known more.” … Who wouldn’t believe that love was, at its best, a safe harbor — a parent’s arm scooping up a frightened child, holding it heart to heart? It’s hard to believe, in retrospect, how many powerful scientists opposed this idea.</p>
  381. <p>What (the hell!) was driving this? Clearly not science, but a kind of scientism, in which ‘love’ was somehow tainted – to be ruled out by the framework itself – peremptorily, not on its merits. I had a milder, but similar frisson of resistance myself when I came across the centrality of the idea of empathy in <a href="http://apo.org.au/resource/designing-better-lives-economists-appreciation-design">design</a>, but on understanding it, came to support the idea.</p>
  382. <h2>Technologies of empathy</h2>
  383. <p>What we need to deliver care are technologies of empathy.<sup>8</sup> There’s little empathy in the existing system which is an unpromising foundation on which to open it up or otherwise marketise it. Opening these systems up to competition might make things better. It might make them worse.<sup>9</sup></p>
  384. <p>What we do know is that we’re not focusing on what matters. And what matters is whether we can become properly intentional (or to adapt the term above,<em> attentional</em>) towards the caring role when it is not being provided organically within the society.</p>
  385. <p>In this regard, there’s a deep lacuna in our ideologies. If you’ll permit these ideal types, to liberalism (and its mathematisation – neoclassical economics) the problem is largely invisible. To socialism or social democracy it’s a task for government to be overseen by a bureaucracy (rather than a task looking for institutions that might learn to perform it). Only in (Burkean) conservatism does what is provided by families and civil society come into full focus as a foundational quality of a functioning society. But, having made the giving of care in families and the maintenance of traditions of social concern, cooperation and coordination central to a functioning society, it has nothing to say about how to build such things where they’re damaged or require development in some way.</p>
  386. <p>And it seems to me that the ethics of care offers some resources for developing that – for conceiving, developing, proving and resourcing technologies of empathy with which we can tackle those issues intentionally, rather than ignore them (as liberalism does) or assume governments can deliver them (as social democracy does by default) or consign them to a private sphere which is then effectively shunted off the stage of public concern.</p>
  387. <h2>The feminist roots of the ethics of care</h2>
  388. <p>In this regard, it seems that feminism’s relation to what I call technologies of empathy has been a little like conservatism’s relation to family and civil society. It acknowledges their centrality. Unlike conservatism, it stresses the marginalisation of care from political and economic life (this might be expressed in critiques of the low wages going to the ‘feminised’ jobs in our economy). But where conservatism then offers nostalgia for the good old days when Big Government hadn’t damaged family life coupled with reticence towards any political project focused on using the resources of the state to rebuild and maintain it, feminism offers naturalism and culture war (I’m offering a caricature to make the point clear).<sup>10</sup></p>
  389. <p>Feminist care ethicist<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/f/01folb.html"> Folbre</a> puts it this way:</p>
  390. <p>Liberal feminism has demanded greater individual rights for women. Social feminism has demanded greater social obligations, especially for men.… Women know they can benefit economically by becoming achievers rather than caregivers. They also know, however, that if all women adopt this strategy, society as a whole will become oriented more toward achievement than care.</p>
  391. <p>Our economy, and arguably our society more broadly rewards care more poorly than self-assertion.<sup>11</sup>  This is a dilemma indeed, shared by all men and women with an interest in living in a more balanced society, but particularly by women who are more often expected to make the necessary sacrifices. By contrast, finding ways to inject the ethics and the technologies of care and empathy into government funded social programs (not least by paying proper attention which includes building and honouring the evidence) carries only benefits: Benefits to those delivering the services, those who receive them and to the economies and societies of which they are a part.</p>
  392. </div>
  393. </div>
  394. <h2>References</h2>
  395. <ol>
  396. <li>From Wikipedia: Subsequent research suggests that the discrepancy in being oriented towards care-based or justice-based ethical approaches may be based on gender differences, or on differences in actual current life situations of the genders.</li>
  397. <li>I note parenthetically, or footnotically, that care ethics seems to make a lot better sense of the ethics of <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/care-eth/#H9">our ethical responsibilities to animals</a>, than Peter Singer’s claimed utilitarianism which I can’t make <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2005/08/10/peter-singers-animal-liberation/">head</a> or <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2007/01/12/tiger-conservation-and-animal-liberation-a-third-go/">tail</a> of.</li>
  398. <li>At this point Grammerly helpfully highlights the last three words indicating that there’s a “qualifier before non-gradable adjective” – I suggest Grammerly take it up with Adam Smith.</li>
  399. <li>It seems reasonable to speculate that the passage is really about his own mother. Smith was a sickly child whose mother feared for his life as an infant.</li>
  400. <li>Smith’s simpatico with care ethics has been noticed in the literature—indeed <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/care-eth/#SSH1c">Annette Baier</a> dubbing Smith’s friend and mentor David Hume the “women’s moral theorist.” Baier argues that Hume denies “that morality consists in obedience to a universal law, emphasizing rather the importance of cultivating virtuous sentimental character traits, including gentleness, agreeability, compassion, sympathy, and good-temperedness”. These ideas about Smith as a ‘proto’ care ethicist have <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/f/01folb.html">been</a> pointed<a href="http://centerforpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Academy-of-Management-Learning-and-Education.pdf"> out</a> since the early 2000s and dealt with in <a href="http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-90-481-9307-3_3">this</a> plodding essay. Incidentally, Annette Baier married Kurt Baier, Dunera Boy and my Dad’s closest friend, confidant and mentor in the camps and in Melbourne after the war – at least until he met my mother.</li>
  401. <li>The ‘theory of the second best’ tells us to be suspicious that addressing any one source of market failure improves things if one doesn’t address all the sources of market failure. But since that’s generally impossible, I think this is a reasonable way to proceed so long as you keep your wits about you and understand,<a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2015/09/08/theorising-in-science-theorising-in-economics/"> as Hicks did</a> in a different context, that you’re taking a dangerous step. But here there will remain numerous profound imperfections in the market after any reform we can manage. In any event there are more compelling, commonsensical reasons for being suspicious of this approach to which I now turn.</li>
  402. <li>He used the word ‘sympathy’ as the singular fulcrum or engine of society aspiring to the ‘<a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/smith/#SH1b">Newtonian method</a>’ of rhetoric in which “an immense chain of the most important and sublime truths, all closely connected together” were explained “by one capital fact, of the reality of which we have daily experience”.</li>
  403. <li>I note here, by way of aside that empathy can’t ‘scale’ mechanically, it has to be grown. I suspect one attraction of ‘contracting out’ is the idea that it scales.</li>
  404. <li><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/f/01folb.html">Folbre offers this point</a> about empathy and choice: Choice is a funny thing, affected by both moral values and by social pressures. Often what we choose depends on what we think other people will choose. It’s harder to stay honest if we see other people cheating. It’s harder to engage in teamwork if other team members are shirking. It’s harder to take on responsibilities for the care of other people if those responsibilities don’t seem to be shared. This is why too much choice—or too little social coordination of choice—can lead to outcomes that can be just as problematic as having no choice at all.</li>
  405. <li>My definition of culture war here consists of these elements: 1) the world is separated into goodies, or those on whose behalf the culture war is waged (in this case woman) and baddies, those standing in its way (in this case men and established structures of power and patriarchy); and 2) the benefits we seek will be delivered by the goodies winning. Any transformations that are necessary to delivering the benefits are either not considered, or assumed simply to follow from the goodies’ success. (At its crudest and most pronounced we see this in the sentimentalisation of revolution. A more prosaic example is the idea that we’ll have more and/or better innovation by sending more money to universities and hiring more STEM teachers).</li>
  406. <li><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/div-classtitletalk-like-a-man-the-linguistic-styles-of-hillary-clinton-19922013div/0F8189E4F3221D78C6233C2F38C72A3E">This article</a> offers an empirical illustration of the association of self-assertion with the masculine, something which marginalises the feminine and the ethics of care in our culture. Here’s a chart of the extent to which Hillary Clinton adopted ‘masculine’ opposed to ‘feminine’ mannerisms of language. Those years in which she campaigned her language became more ‘masculine’.</li>
  407. </ol>
  408. <p><img class="size-medium wp-image-105351 aligncenter" src="https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2019/03/Gruen-chart-300x199.png" alt="" width="300" height="199" /></p>
  409. ]]></content:encoded>
  410. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/adam-smith-was-a-feminist-economist-care-the-essay/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  411. <slash:comments>3</slash:comments>
  412. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32805</post-id> </item>
  413. <item>
  414. <title>War on empathy, war on confidence, war on context</title>
  415. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/war-on-empathy-war-on-confidence-war-on-context/</link>
  416. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/war-on-empathy-war-on-confidence-war-on-context/#comments</comments>
  417. <pubDate>Tue, 16 Apr 2019 01:57:53 +0000</pubDate>
  418. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  419. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  420.  
  421. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32802</guid>
  422. <description><![CDATA[Cross posted with the Mandarin Nicholas Gruen has argued that it’s much harder to realise evidence-based policy – both institutionally and intellectually – than many calling for it realise. Here he explains how putatively ‘scientific’ and ‘objective’ approaches can, paradoxically, compromise their efficacy &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/war-on-empathy-war-on-confidence-war-on-context/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  423. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Cross posted with <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/103844-war-on-empathy-war-on-confidence-war-on-context/?utm_source=TheJuice&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=newsletter">the Mandarin</a></p>
  424. <p><b>Nicholas Gruen <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/94412-being-evidence-based-is-really-really-hard-shifting-evaluation-culture/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has argued</a> that it’s much harder to realise evidence-based policy – both institutionally and intellectually – than many calling for it realise. Here he explains how putatively ‘scientific’ and ‘objective’ approaches can, paradoxically, compromise their efficacy by squeezing out empathy and relatedness.<img class="detail__media__img-highres js-detail-img js-detail-img-high alignright" src="https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lingualearnenglish.com%2Fblog%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F08%2Fself-confidence.jpg&amp;f=1" alt="How learning a new language can change your life ..." width="466" height="310" /></b></p>
  425. <p>Russ Roberts has (yet another) great interview on EconTalk. He’s always been gregarious in his interests, but is becoming more so—and also more sceptical of social progress and of economics as a master discipline. Be that as it may, on listening to <a href="http://www.econtalk.org/gary-greenberg-on-the-placebo-effect/#audio-highlights">this interview</a> with psychiatrist Gary Greenberg on the placebo effect it struck me that a phenomenon of some interest to me might be far more general than I’d imagined.</p>
  426. <h2>War on empathy</h2>
  427. <p>Empathy tends to get squeezed out of interactions between bureaucracy and the life world. And even professions that one might imagine would be built on empathy — like social work — often operate according to other professional imperatives. Hence, the power of finding ways for the community to administer social repair through the empathic bond of peers rather than professionals, as The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), which I chaired until the end of 2016, tried to do with <a href="https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aclubtroppo.com.au+%22Family+by+Family%22&amp;atb=v153-1__&amp;ia=web">Family by Family</a>.</p>
  428. <p>In any event, the basic idea promoted by Greenwood (slightly extrapolated by me) is this: as medicine was made more scientific, the placebo effect was discovered, and then marginalised. Yet it was of unarguable therapeutic power. Of course it’s entirely appropriate that, if one is looking for drug therapies, one wants to find drugs that, other things being equal, do better than sugar pills.</p>
  429. <p>But in the process, the trail goes cold on keeping the placebo effect in the frame, not only for what it might help us understand, but, more remarkably, even for its therapeutic potential. There’s been vanishingly little investigation of the joint effect of the drug and the placebo acting together. And it turns out that, investigating the placebo effect more broadly, it seems likely that it has something to do with empathic bonds — between some source of authority like the doctor and the patient. Or perhaps from anyone.</p>
  430. <h2>War on confidence</h2>
  431. <p><span id="more-32802"></span></p>
  432. <p>We seem to do better when we feel ourselves to be of concern to others, not just mentally, but physically. Whodda thunk?</p>
  433. <p>Note also Greenberg’s comment, “confidence is probably one of the most poorly understood and one of the most important aspects of our daily lives”.</p>
  434. <p>Surely enough, confidence was critical in Family by Family. Single mothers had so internalised the description of themselves as bad mothers (and by any comparative standard they had certainly done some bad mothering), that they were crushed and unable to change. Every one of the success stories that I learned of seemed to me to operate very directly, through confidence.</p>
  435. <p>To extrapolate further, we’re at the stage in drug therapy that we got to with our understanding of genetic causes of disease. Having discovered lots of low-hanging fruit, it’s all getting a lot harder. And it seems the world is more complex—vastly more complex—than the relentlessly reductive models we’ve had in our heads but which generated the early successes.</p>
  436. <p>Of course, one of the things reinforcing all this is commercial interest. You can patent and market a molecule, so the ‘drug theory of physical wellness’ is well supported by the pharmaceutical capital market. Mobilising the placebo effect — much less so. (This is something that’s not handled as crisply as it might have been in the podcast, IMO.)</p>
  437. <p>The fruit that’s not hanging so low are all the chronic maladies that dominate our health discourse today — obesity, diabetes, anxiety and depression, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, to name a few. Drug therapy has worked poorly here. It’s possible, perhaps likely that, by understanding the placebo effect — or those things that drive it — renewed progress might be possible.</p>
  438. <h2>The war on context</h2>
  439. <p>This hasn’t just been a war (however inadvertent) on empathy and on the importance of confidence. It’s been a war on context.</p>
  440. <p>A certain paradigm of science is asserted in which science offers knowledge that is lifted from context. Of course, if you can do it, and your goal is mastery of nature, well and good. You’d expect this to be the low-hanging fruit and you should go pick it.</p>
  441. <p>Alas, the lavish rewards this produces — for outcomes, methodologies, disciplines and careers — then compromises what might be the next phase of progress in areas where context matters.</p>
  442. <p>I almost wrote ‘more difficult’ areas. But context-dependent knowledge also exists on a spectrum from low-to-high-hanging fruit (<em>slaps wrist for mixed metaphor</em>).</p>
  443. <p>A program like Family by Family isn’t rocket science. It makes a lot more sense than most standard practice now. It’s just countercultural in the empathy-starved careerist bureaucracy we’ve built to deliver child protection services — an environment that has been <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2017/04/07/the-living-and-the-dead-the-arteries-and-the-capillaries-part-one/">unable to even detect strongly above-average performance</a>, let alone find ways to learn from and spread it.</p>
  444. <p>This kind of knowledge is scientific knowledge too, but arises when one adapts one’s scientific tools to the task at hand, rather than simply <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60563-1/abstract">aping techniques that worked elsewhere</a>.</p>
  445. <p>With the renewed enthusiasm towards evidence-based policy in the context of the Thodey Review (while we expand cashless welfare cards for political reasons contrary to all the evidence) the test will be whether anything we do will promote rigour, thoughtfulness and attention to what the evidence is telling us given our objectives and the multiple contexts in which we want to achieve them.</p>
  446. <p>The two alternatives to this are that nice words are said about the report and it’s ignored, or it provokes a new birth of scientism in which the quest for contextless knowledge generates little useful knowledge at all.</p>
  447. <p><strong>Postscript: an interview with Leon Gettler on the subject of this post</strong></p>
  448. <!--[if lt IE 9]><script>document.createElement('audio');</script><![endif]-->
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  450. ]]></content:encoded>
  451. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/16/war-on-empathy-war-on-confidence-war-on-context/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  452. <slash:comments>16</slash:comments>
  453. <enclosure url="http://clubtroppo.com.au/files/2019/04/NicholasGruenFebruary22.mp3" length="14399452" type="audio/mpeg" />
  454. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32802</post-id> </item>
  455. <item>
  456. <title>An unpublished column on Brexit: until now!</title>
  457. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/15/an-unpublished-column-on-brexit-until-now/</link>
  458. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/15/an-unpublished-column-on-brexit-until-now/#comments</comments>
  459. <pubDate>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 02:56:33 +0000</pubDate>
  460. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  461. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  462. <category><![CDATA[Sortition and citizens’ juries]]></category>
  463.  
  464. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32800</guid>
  465. <description><![CDATA[From around January this year I&#8217;ve tried to get the column below published – in the Guardian UK where my previous column was published. Unfortunately, and even after endless cajoling via the Guardian at this end, I couldn&#8217;t get a reply which &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/15/an-unpublished-column-on-brexit-until-now/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  466. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>From around January this year I&#8217;ve tried to get the column below published – in the Guardian UK where my previous column was published. Unfortunately, and even after endless cajoling via the Guardian at this end, I couldn&#8217;t get a reply which is piss poor but there you go. Martin Wolf tried for me at the FT. At least they responded – but with a &#8216;no&#8217;, which is fair enough given the oversupply of articles on Brexit. Anyway as it fades into irrelevance and the Brexit Brouhaha Burbles on I thought I&#8217;d pop it up here.</p>
  467. <p><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='640' height='390' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/mM6OIlreneA?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></p>
  468. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The result of the 2016 Brexit referendum looms over the career politicians assembled in the Palace of Westminster as the black monolith loomed over the apes in the movie 2001. </span></p>
  469. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">It’s taken over thirty months of thrashing through </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">actual</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> options – as opposed to the wild partisan imaginings in the campaign – for a ghastly, if entirely foreseeable realisation to dawn. Despite the people’s clear instruction to Leave, any </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">specific </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400">way of doing so would command far less than the 48 percent vote for Remain. </span></p>
  470. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">In the teeth of the greatest crisis of British statecraft since World War II, the institutional imperatives of political combat ensure the politicians </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">perform</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> rather than deliberate. Not only Corbyn, but extraordinarily enough, May has clung to fantasies about getting a better deal, though the end game will presumably see her change her tune. </span></p>
  471. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">How did it come to this?</span><span id="more-32800"></span></p>
  472. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">A year ago, </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/16/democratic-tragedy-brexit-ancient-greece-citizens-assembly-democracy"><span style="font-weight: 400">I argued </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">for a &#8216;Brexit Deliberation Day&#8217; in which ten citizens’ juries of around 50 people selected, as legal juries are, by lot from local communities around the country would consider Brexit. In such circumstances, citizens&#8217; opinions move systematically as they better understand the issues in discussion with peers.</span></p>
  473. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Isn’t this a job for parliament? Parliament forsook deliberation for ‘the numbers’ as the party system consolidated in the nineteenth century. In the last half century the struggle for the consent of the governed has become as professionalised, as optimised to win votes as McDonald&#8217;s use of salt, fat, sugar and advertising is to win customers. </span></p>
  474. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Like other aspects of our fast food culture – the linkbait to deliver clicks, internet and tabloid trolling to deliver outrage – it’s slowly poisoning us. Today’s politico-entertainment complex makes parliamentary deliberation impossible – as rare and pointless as playing chess with a badger.</span></p>
  475. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Many people supported my proposal but said it was too late. It should have happened before the people voted. Indeed: As it does in the US State of Oregon in which citizens juries deliberate and advise the electorate before any citizen initiated referendum: As has occurred in Ireland’s recent string of successful referendums. </span></p>
  476. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Whenever my proposal has been considered by those with the funds to make it happen, the answer’s been the same. It is too late now. Instead they’ve funded the usual political campaigns – with all their self-righteousness, manipulation and polarising propaganda that the pro-Brexit vote was a protest against – however careless, however futile that vote was. </span></p>
  477. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">And here we are. As each day passes, the need to find a new way grows more, not less urgent. If you’re focused on March 29 thinking it’s too late to organise a Brexit Deliberation Day, you’re probably right, though a citizen assembly chosen by lot is still possible and would reflect the people’s </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">considered</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> will in contrast to the polls. </span></p>
  478. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">But this crisis will morph into new dramas well beyond March 29th with no obvious end in sight. And, beyond Brexit, modern democracies are turning to self-harm with increasing regularity. Pursuing similar imperatives as Corbyn and May, the greatest achievement of Australia’s parliamentarians of 2013 was abolishing carbon pricing against the better judgement of an overwhelming majority of them. It’s given up on climate change, paralysed the energy market generating soaring energy prices and robs the budget of $10 billion each year. The Republicans in Congress are waving through a trade war against </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">their</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> better judgement. Who would have believed it?</span></p>
  479. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">We must look beyond March 29th if we’re not to waste this crisis. It gives Britain the chance to begin the process of healing its own democracy and showing others how. From a citizens&#8217; assembly, a cadre would emerge that was well informed on Brexit and, as a group, enjoyed popular legitimacy as embodying ordinary Britons’ </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">considered</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> will. It could be polled to determine ordinary people’s considered opinion as developments unfold. </span></p>
  480. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Imagine that cadre doing what a citizens&#8217; assembly on nuclear power </span><a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/83008-leadership-without-careerism-possible/"><span style="font-weight: 400">in South Australia</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> did, appointing representatives of the best among them as spokespeople. That council of citizen jurors could have been operating, shadowing negotiations in Brussels, and parliament, shaming our representatives to put our interests first.</span></p>
  481. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Surveying the scene on another occasion when Britain was searching for its soul, and fighting for its life, George Orwell wrote “The past is fighting the future and we have two years, a year, possibly only a few months, to see to it that the future wins”.</span></p>
  482. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Whether they knew it or not, the apes were in the same situation as they stared at the inscrutable black monolith that came among them. </span></p>
  483. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">It’s the situation Britons again find themselves in today.</span></p>
  484. ]]></content:encoded>
  485. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/15/an-unpublished-column-on-brexit-until-now/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  486. <slash:comments>4</slash:comments>
  487. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32800</post-id> </item>
  488. <item>
  489. <title>We know WHAT we need to do. Will someone tell us HOW?</title>
  490. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/03/we-know-what-we-need-to-do-will-someone-tell-us-how/</link>
  491. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/03/we-know-what-we-need-to-do-will-someone-tell-us-how/#comments</comments>
  492. <pubDate>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 04:25:54 +0000</pubDate>
  493. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  494. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  495.  
  496. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32792</guid>
  497. <description><![CDATA[When policy problems are complex, we need to understand and learn from the front line. With desperately need to improve the early, middle and late stages of institutional learning and change-making, to enable successful policy development. From the recent Mandarin &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/03/we-know-what-we-need-to-do-will-someone-tell-us-how/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  498. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><strong>When policy problems are complex, we need to understand and learn from the front line. With desperately need to improve the early, middle and late stages of institutional learning and change-making, to enable successful policy development.</strong></p>
  499. <p>From the recent <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/105868-we-know-what-we-need-to-do-will-someone-tell-us-how/">Mandarin article</a>.</p>
  500. <p>It&#8217;s election season in Australia.</p>
  501. <p>I can feel the announceables coming on; indeed whole focus groups of them.</p>
  502. <p>Pilots make an easy announceable. They&#8217;re cheap, they sound innovative and they&#8217;ll be conveniently off the books by the time some new announceables are needed. Pilots are to policy what start-ups are to innovation: cheap, worthwhile and almost invariably around for a short time before they&#8217;re replaced by new ones. And most of them are unsuccessful.</p>
  503. <p>Innovation policy has a name for the problem. It&#8217;s called the Valley of Death, and refers to all those byways and traps that must be navigated before the Good Idea can make it into a successful product. A similar valley of death bedevils innovation in government.</p>
  504. <p>And while these problems are frustrating in markets, at least markets are an open system capable of being disrupted (as we say now) by competitors with enough nous and other resources to do so.</p>
  505. <p>Innovators in government face a similar thicket of obstacles, but in a centrally planned system, it can be virtually impossible to get through &#8212; because if you&#8217;re a small new initiative, you&#8217;ve got few champions fighting for you, and plenty of people within the system to whom you&#8217;re an inconvenience or worse.</p>
  506. <h2>Through thick and thin: Improving policy in Australia’s regions</h2>
  507. <p>These things came to mind as Lateral Economics was working on a report to the Regional Australia Institute<em>, <a href="https://lateraleconomics.com.au/output/ithrough-thick-and-th/">Through thick and thin: Improving policy in Australia’s regions</a></em>. Yet just as Australia has managed some commercial start-up successes, a few Atlassians and Seeks, so too there are a few government innovations that have scaled &#8212; although only one in regional policy.</p>
  508. <p>Not only does this prove that it&#8217;s possible, it helps us understand how such success might be replicated.</p>
  509. <p>At least during the reform glory days from 1983 to 2001, Australia excelled at top-down economic policy reform. This included the setting of tax and benefit levels (whereby Australia has the most targeted welfare system in the world) and adapting existing infrastructure like the tax and benefits system in new ways, as we did with HECS and the Child Support Agency.</p>
  510. <p>Scrapping stuff that probably never made economic sense &#8212; like tariffs, shopping hours and the two-airline policy &#8212; was also something we led the world in. However beyond this, we&#8217;re coming to realise (aren&#8217;t we?) that even back in the glory days we weren&#8217;t so flash where problems are complex.</p>
  511. <h2>The obstacle course</h2>
  512. <p>When problems are complex, we need to understand and learn from what&#8217;s happening on the ground.</p>
  513. <p>Adapting language from anthropology, we call the former policy problem, which is amenable to top-down reform, ‘thin’, and the latter, more complex problem, ‘thick’.</p>
  514. <p>Whereas thin problems can be effectively designed and managed from the top, for thick problems, institutional learning must travel up the chain of command as well as down &#8212; from the outfield to the centre and also in the other direction.</p>
  515. <p>However, there are profound institutional and cultural obstacles preventing this from occurring, and where it does occur, preventing it from being embedded or properly institutionalised.</p>
  516. <p>The greater status given to policy-making compared with delivery is a central obstacle to achieving what must be achieved if small-scale variations and experiments in the field are to be learned from &#8212; which is to say:</p>
  517. <ul>
  518. <li>assessed and understood; and</li>
  519. <li>scaled on their merits.</li>
  520. </ul>
  521. <p>In our report, we anatomised these inadequacies in terms of the early, middle and late stages of the necessary process of institutional learning and change-making &#8212; which we summarised using a rhyming triplet: <strong>Will &#8212; Skill &#8212; Fulfil</strong></p>
  522. <p>We found deficiencies of practice in each of these stages:</p>
  523. <p style="padding-left: 40px"><img class="wp-image-105874 alignright" src="https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2019/03/WillSkillFulfil.png" alt="" width="405" height="347" /><strong>Will: </strong>Governments frequently announce their intention to introduce some new policy or approach. Then, poor attention to detail often follows and the initiative quietly dies. Sometimes little progress is made beyond announcement or some stated intention. On other occasions, a pilot proceeds and appears successful but is not continued further as priorities change.</p>
  524. <p style="padding-left: 40px"><strong>Skill: </strong>Pilots, trials and other small-scale initiatives are often used to develop new skills and investigate the value of various new approaches. Some pilots have trialled integration of service delivery and funding streams between agencies &#8212; one of the holy grails in ‘joined-up government’ &#8212; but this has been very rare. More disconcertingly, the scaling of such learning into larger programs with learning feeding back to agencies has been rarer again.</p>
  525. <p style="padding-left: 40px"><strong>Fulfil: </strong>For innovation to be truly ‘fulfilled’ in our lexicon, it needs to be grown to the appropriate size and to become incumbent &#8212; embedded within organisational and political expectations and business-as-usual.</p>
  526. <h2>The Landcare example</h2>
  527. <p>We can think of only one example where this has occurred for regional Australia: Landcare.</p>
  528. <p>Landcare was a highly successful initiative in which a range of success factors coalesced:</p>
  529. <ul>
  530. <li>It had high-level political support throughout.</li>
  531. <li>This coincided with its being a very cost-effective and popular response to a policy and political enthusiasm of the time, ecologically sustainable development.</li>
  532. <li>It was not expensive and was seen by the government as saving money in a range of respects.</li>
  533. <li>The above factors led to early scaling, which was not difficult to do as the principles and administration of the program were relatively straightforward.</li>
  534. <li>It did not require any difficult cross-agency collaboration or funding.</li>
  535. </ul>
  536. <p>Partly because of a political culture that valorises announceables, pilots and small-scale policy innovations are relatively easily established, but then tend to disappear, often irrespective of their merits, to be replaced by new announceables, many of which are also pilots.</p>
  537. <h2>The need for accountability: some recommendations</h2>
  538. <p>Governments urgently need to establish greater accountability for the extent to which the system as a whole supports a healthy process by which trials, pilot programs or just variations within existing programs are widely learned from and grown in scale and impact where appropriate.</p>
  539. <p>In light of this we offered the following recommendations:</p>
  540. <ul>
  541. <li>Existing regulatory ‘sandbox’ approaches offer some promise but risk repeating the mistakes of the past. Policy ‘labs’ such as <a href="https://www.nesta.org.uk/">NESTA</a>, <a href="https://ylab.global/">Y-Lab</a> and the <a href="https://www.aucklandco-lab.nz">Auckland Co-Design Lab</a>, offer worthwhile models for pursuing thick policy problems, within which regulatory ‘sandbox’ ideas could happily sit.</li>
  542. <li>As many of the issues relevant to regions span federal, state and local government, such bodies should have a federal remit. They should then work with governments at all levels and other stakeholders including users and the general public to make the thick journey to better policy and delivery.</li>
  543. <li>Where pilots are established, their monitoring and evaluation should be provided in a way that is:
  544. <ul>
  545. <li>expert and collaborative with those in the field to help them optimise their impact; and</li>
  546. <li>independent.</li>
  547. </ul>
  548. </li>
  549. <li>A unit like a behavioural insights unit could be a useful base from which to build such independent capability, ensuring the rigour of the process. But an additional objective would be the transparency of the project from outside. This will be important for the local community to be aware of the progress made. And this will assist the prospects of expanding small projects where they&#8217;re generating strong benefits and embedding them in the community’s expectations, and so in the minds of politicians ultimately responsible for decisions on the projects’ destiny.</li>
  550. <li>There should be a register of such projects and small policy initiatives, with reporting each year by the auditor-general on the quality of the knowledge they have generated (and by implication the quality of the monitoring and evaluation being undertaken), their success or otherwise and, more importantly given the failings in the current system, in applying the lessons learned, including by adapting and growing the initiatives.</li>
  551. <li>It would make sense to limit such an approach on regional initiatives as a trial, though if the ideas in this report have merit, they should have a wider impact.</li>
  552. <li>An innovation fund should be established by the federal government to fund innovative programs that vary existing mainstream programs in ways that establish better knowledge about the impact of those programs under different conditions. Thus, for instance, one might trial more generous means-testing of welfare to understand the behavioural responses to such changes, and to optimise the impact of tapering welfare payments as people transition from welfare to work.</li>
  553. <li>We should tackle the dominance of policy over delivery in the values of public service beginning with an audit of the extent to which leading successful learning and innovation <em>in policy delivery </em>is considered an important qualification for promotion in the public service, and take concrete steps to improve perceived problems in this regard.</li>
  554. </ul>
  555. <p><strong>This article has been adapted from a report commissioned by the Regional Australia Institute. RAI&#8217;s <a href="http://regionsrising.regionalaustralia.org.au/canberra/?mc_cid=1a7c037b41&amp;mc_eid=7f6556473b">Regions Rising Conference</a> will be held in Canberra on April 4-5.</strong></p>
  556. ]]></content:encoded>
  557. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/03/we-know-what-we-need-to-do-will-someone-tell-us-how/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  558. <slash:comments>4</slash:comments>
  559. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32792</post-id> </item>
  560. <item>
  561. <title>Paul Krugman’s incredible invisibility trick</title>
  562. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/02/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick-2/</link>
  563. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/02/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick-2/#comments</comments>
  564. <pubDate>Tue, 02 Apr 2019 08:35:04 +0000</pubDate>
  565. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  566. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  567.  
  568. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32789</guid>
  569. <description><![CDATA[It’s impossible to avoid misjudgements in life or to get all one’s predictions right. But should economists get caught out quite so often.  Paul Krugman is honest and self-critical. So he’s up for identifying what economists missed about globalisation – &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/02/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick-2/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  570. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><strong>It’s impossible to avoid misjudgements in life or to get all one’s predictions right. But should economists get caught out quite so often. </strong></p>
  571. <p><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='640' height='390' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/rWQ3jCURzy0?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></p>
  572. <p>Paul Krugman is honest and self-critical. So he’s up for identifying what economists missed about globalisation – including himself.</p>
  573. <p>Of course, everyone’s wise in hindsight. Still, Krugman keeps reporting that economists ignored things that were … kind of obvious.</p>
  574. <p>For one person to miss something is a misfortune.</p>
  575. <p>But a whole profession doing it, again and again, seems like carelessness.</p>
  576. <p><a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/94551-a-lucky-boy-from-a-golden-age-of-economics/">I’ve</a> previously <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/opinion/uses-and-abuses-of-economic-formalism-wonkish-and-self-referential.html">locked</a> horns <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/95353-nicholas-gruen-on-the-disciplinary-incentives-of-economics/">with</a> Krugman regarding his own tolerance of economists ignoring things that were staring them in the face — about which more shortly.</p>
  577. <p>In any event, Krugman was in Melbourne recently to give an informative and enjoyable lecture in Max Corden’s honour (watch below).</p>
  578. <p>One of his central points was to defend trade theory against ignorant critics.</p>
  579. <p><a href="https://youtu.be/rWQ3jCURzy0?t=1444">As he pointed out</a>, although some critics accuse economists of arguing that free trade is good for everyone, that’s not economics speaking, but certain economic zealots pushing a barrow.</p>
  580. <p>Standard trade theory suggests that freer trade will generate winners and losers. If imports decimate an industry, investors and workers in that industry will suffer harm. This is inter-industry trade expansion such as we&#8217;ve seen in Australia recently with increased imports of cars wiping out Australian car manufacturing, paid for by increased exports — mostly of iron ore and other primary commodities.</p>
  581. <p>This was the trade that was implicit in economists’ models. But as Krugman points out, economists started realising that something else was going on from around the 1960s on.</p>
  582. <h2>The fog of clear thinking</h2>
  583. <p>Turns out Krugman blames clear thinking.<span id="more-32789"></span></p>
  584. <p>If you think clearly — well you kind of just miss stuff. And it turns out that this clear thinking — which, of course, all your best colleagues are doing — leads them to miss stuff too. Even more worrying, they miss exactly the same stuff.</p>
  585. <p>Here’s Krugman explaining how economists twigged to new realities of trade from the 1960s on:</p>
  586. <blockquote><p>&#8220;If you look at where trade was growing, it was growing within Europe at the time and between countries that look quite similar. It was intra-industry trade among similar countries.<sup>1</sup> What was that about? Actually, that was an interesting thing because it was really very hard for people to … It was very hard for economists with formal models to even talk about that. For a while there, there was an advantage to not being, <em>not thinking too clearly</em> because if you didn’t think too clearly you could say, “Oh yes, obviously there’s advantages of large-scale production and you can produce a smaller number of products at large scale, export those, import other stuff.” But then economists would say, have you modelled that in general equilibrium? How do I handle the market structure? I can’t do that so it must not exist. Well, actually, we managed to pull that together.&#8221; (<em>Emphasis added</em>).</p></blockquote>
  587. <p>I’ll expand on the invisibility of intra-industry trade shortly, but Krugman is on his way to explaining another disappearing trick.</p>
  588. <p>As he argues, just after his own ‘new’ economic theory of trade and geography made it possible to ‘see’ intra-industry trade, a kind of<a href="https://youtu.be/rWQ3jCURzy0?t=1512"> intellectual Murphy’s Law</a> intervened. Just as the discipline was coming to understand what was really going on &#8230; what was really going on changed.<sup>2</sup></p>
  589. <p>The 1990s saw the transition from <em>Pax Americana</em> to <em>Pax Sinica</em>, with the most populous and fastest growing country in the world, China, exporting its way to prosperity. And this intensified inter-industry trade with all its disruptive potential.</p>
  590. <p>But isn’t it kind of obvious that, once China gets in on the act in a big way, the magnitude of things is going to change and that, with China’s very different labour costs, a lot of the trade expansion will be inter rather than intra-industry trade?</p>
  591. <p>There was a further problem.</p>
  592. <p>As we’ve known since at least the early 1900s, when Alfred Marshall documented it, manufacturing industry is very regionally specialised. So that means that, even where impacts are small at the national level, they can be very damaging for specific towns and regions — as it was for Hickory, North Carolina faced with a surge of Chinese furniture imports.</p>
  593. <p><img class="wp-image-106567 aligncenter" src="https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2019/04/Gruen-krugman-300x191.jpg" alt="" width="515" height="328" /></p>
  594. <p>Krugman acknowledges his own failure to anticipate this.</p>
  595. <blockquote><p>&#8220;Having been a participant in a lot of the debates about trade and wages in the 90s I can say … I certainly missed … I wasn’t thinking at all about the dynamics of rapid change.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  596. <p>So good on him. And I’m not particularly critical of him for not foreseeing it. He’s a busy guy writing two op-eds a week — #Srsly! — but he only does that in his spare time. His main job is thinking about stuff, and he happened to be thinking about other stuff. No-one can think about everything.</p>
  597. <h2><strong>One can&#8217;t ignore the dynamics</strong></h2>
  598. <p>But I am critical of him for is for his continuing complacency about his profession.</p>
  599. <p>Note how he says he and his fellow economists weren’t focusing on dynamics. Well, it was those dynamics that the community was anxious about — they’re really everything in the political discussion of trade.</p>
  600. <p>Krugman wasn’t thinking about dynamics because he was doing ‘comparative statics’ or comparing one long-run state with a counterfactual long-run state. And that was because that’s how trade theory has been built.</p>
  601. <p>That great prize of modelling imperfect competition in ‘general equilibrium’, for which Krugman got another <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2008/krugman/lecture/">Great Prize</a>, wasn’t the most important thing we needed to know about trade. Indeed great economists of the past had warned us it was unlikely to tell us much — warnings which were vindicated in hindsight. But that was what floated the discipline’s boat.</p>
  602. <p>As Keynes famously said regarding similar problems in macro-economics (and some readers may not be familiar with the whole quote):</p>
  603. <blockquote><p>&#8220;The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if, in tempestuous seasons, they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  604. <p>It seems to me all this is entirely forgivable for any one person. That’s why we have professions. And if a profession is too myopic, that’s why we have other professions. And if those professions are too myopic, that’s why we live in an open society. If it’s commonsensical, someone will point it out. But here it turns out that, for Krugman none of these resources were available.</p>
  605. <p>Reflecting on whether or not economists should have considered the dynamics of change Krugman says this:</p>
  606. <blockquote><p>&#8220;I think I can say with a fair degree of confidence that basically, nobody was, that this was just not the way that economists were thinking about the issue. We were thinking … in terms of long-run equilibrium models, which seemed reasonable but was actually missing a lot of what was going on.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  607. <p>So, things that were both obvious when you thought about them even informally, and obviously important were invisible. They were invisible to a whole profession and … well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. I guess that’s clear thinking for you.</p>
  608. <p>To show you this invisibility trick in all its glory, here’s <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2008/krugman/lecture/">Krugman’s Nobel acceptance speech</a> commenting on his theorising about intra-industry trade and the importance of industry-specific economies and scale and specialisation in driving trade:</p>
  609. <blockquote><p>&#8220;You may think all this is obvious, and it is — now. But it was totally not obvious before 1980 or so — except for some prescient quotes from Paul Samuelson, you really can’t find anyone describing trade this way until after the theory had been laid out in mathematical models.&#8221;</p>
  610. <p>The plain English version came later:</p>
  611. <p>&#8220;And you should bear in mind that economists have been thinking and writing about international trade for a couple of centuries; to come along and say, “Hey, we’ve been missing half the story” was a pretty big thing.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  612. <p>As I wrote in my article on Krugman’s reaction to my speech launching Max Corden’s memoirs:</p>
  613. <blockquote><p>For all his brilliance, I’m repeatedly shocked at Krugman’s complacency regarding his own discipline.</p>
  614. <p>What could Krugman possibly mean when he tells his Stockholm audience that “the plain English version” came after his theory?</p>
  615. <p>What’s his response to the list I mentioned in my speech?</p>
  616. <ul>
  617. <li>Hicks (1959)</li>
  618. <li>Linder (1961)</li>
  619. <li>Elkan (1965)</li>
  620. <li>Vernon (1966)</li>
  621. <li>Balassa (1966)</li>
  622. <li>Drysdale (1969)</li>
  623. <li>Grubel (1967)</li>
  624. <li>Gorden (1970)</li>
  625. <li>Lloyd (1975)</li>
  626. <li>Bhagwati (1973)</li>
  627. <li>Gray (1976)</li>
  628. <li>Krueger (1978)</li>
  629. </ul>
  630. <p>I’m genuinely baffled, given Krugman would be familiar with most if not all these authors.<sup>3</sup></p></blockquote>
  631. <p>There were plenty of canaries in the coal mine regarding the China Shock. They just weren’t giving seminars in the economics departments of the Ivy League.</p>
  632. <p>All of this reminds me of Robert Solow’s devastating observation, “Sometimes I think it is only my weakness of character that keeps me from making obvious errors”.</p>
  633. <p>Solow was a passionate believer in an older style of economic thinking, in which formal analysis developed in close dialogue with — and ideally was enveloped by — close discursive reasoning, though in the passage just quoted he was speaking about the pull of left and right wing ideology.</p>
  634. <p>Still, sometimes I think it’s Paul Krugman’s and his professions ‘clear thinking’ that leads them to make obvious errors — at least until after the event.</p>
  635. <h2>References</h2>
  636. <ol>
  637. <li>As he pointed out, economists have always argued that even though freer trade can be expected to lead to aggregate gains, it comes with substantial adjustment costs. This is because the standard understanding of trade was that it was driven by comparative costs. And this was always understood to involve expanding inter-industry trade. Thus Australia would export more coal, wool and iron ore and import more cameras clothes and cars. That’s obviously disruptive for the poor souls employed making clothes and cars (I’m not sure how many cameras we ever made but we probably made <a href="http://brownie-camera.com/22b.jpg">Box Brownies</a> at least.) But if Australia exports Commodores and imports Mercedes it’s a very different story.</li>
  638. <li>As an aside my favourite example of this law is Malthus’s Principle of Population — perhaps we should call it Malthus’s law in his honour. It took until 1798 for someone to come up with an explanation for why human beings stayed close to substance despite considerable growth in economies and in technology — which was that population grew geometrically and would eventually absorb any additional production — which Malthus assumed would grow linearly. This was a very powerful explanation for a stylised fact which applied more or less to the whole of human history. But it was changing just as Malthus cooked up his theory. Today our living standards are around 25 times subsistence — smashed avocado brunch, anyone?</li>
  639. <li>The only way I can think of to rescue some semblance of sense in Krugman’s assertion is to say that by ‘no-one’ he means no-one who matters. But even this is hard to square with the list. He described Max Corden as a great economist in his lecture. And John Hicks is amongst the greatest economists of the twentieth century. So it’s not even economists in the top draw. It seems like a kind of tautological statement that economists who thought about trade in a particular way didn’t see it.</li>
  640. </ol>
  641. ]]></content:encoded>
  642. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/04/02/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick-2/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  643. <slash:comments>16</slash:comments>
  644. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32789</post-id> </item>
  645. <item>
  646. <title>Crikey group sub: it&#8217;s on again</title>
  647. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/27/crikey-group-sub-its-on-again/</link>
  648. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/27/crikey-group-sub-its-on-again/#comments</comments>
  649. <pubDate>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 14:31:52 +0000</pubDate>
  650. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  651. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  652.  
  653. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32781</guid>
  654. <description><![CDATA[The ClubTroppo Crikey Group sub is on again. Please email me on ngruen at G mail if you’d like to participate. Please put ‘crikey’ in the subject heading to reduce your chances of your email getting lost in translation (All &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/27/crikey-group-sub-its-on-again/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  655. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<div style="width: 352px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="detail__media__img-highres js-detail-img js-detail-img-high" src="https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.crikey.com.au%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F05%2F20180518001346227142-original-784x495.jpg&amp;f=1" alt="Crikey Worm: Pauline Hanson crashes the PM's tax cut gravy train" width="342" height="216" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Put in &#8220;Crikey&#8221; to DuckDuckGo&#8217;s image search (Google is for data donating chumps) and you mostly get Steve Irwin and crocodiles. And Pauline, who, as we speak, is, between takes of <em>Dancing with the Stars</em>, fighting for second amendment rights for terrorists and us law abiding folks, so we can shoot them before they cause too much trouble to our way of life.</p></div>
  656. <p>The ClubTroppo Crikey Group sub is on again.</p>
  657. <p>Please email me on ngruen at G mail if you’d like to participate.</p>
  658. <p>Please put ‘crikey’ in the subject heading to reduce your chances of your email getting lost in translation</p>
  659. <p>(All emails are translated – for obvious reasons).</p>
  660. <p>Those getting a subscription will also be flown First Class to the city of their dreams to meet Camilla Parker Bowles and her fictional Great Aunt Sally Bowles of <em>Goodbye to Berlin </em>for the unveiling of the latest vehicle in ClubTroppo&#8217;s Garage of automotive delights.</p>
  661. ]]></content:encoded>
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  663. <slash:comments>2</slash:comments>
  664. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32781</post-id> </item>
  665. <item>
  666. <title>The Guru recipe</title>
  667. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/the-guru-recipe/</link>
  668. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/the-guru-recipe/#comments</comments>
  669. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Mar 2019 10:25:28 +0000</pubDate>
  670. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Paul Frijters]]></dc:creator>
  671. <category><![CDATA[bubble]]></category>
  672. <category><![CDATA[Cultural Critique]]></category>
  673. <category><![CDATA[Ethics]]></category>
  674. <category><![CDATA[Geeky Musings]]></category>
  675. <category><![CDATA[Journalism]]></category>
  676. <category><![CDATA[Law]]></category>
  677. <category><![CDATA[Libertarian Musings]]></category>
  678. <category><![CDATA[Life]]></category>
  679. <category><![CDATA[Social]]></category>
  680. <category><![CDATA[Society]]></category>
  681. <category><![CDATA[Space]]></category>
  682. <category><![CDATA[Theatre]]></category>
  683.  
  684. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32778</guid>
  685. <description><![CDATA[[I just read a self-help book and, like Don Quixote, need to vent&#8230;] My 10 rules for becoming a successful guru: Appear popular at the start: humans are just like dogs that follow other dogs. So have a legion of &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/the-guru-recipe/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  686. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>[I just read a self-help book and, like Don Quixote, need to vent&#8230;]</p>
  687. <p>My 10 rules for becoming a successful guru:</p>
  688. <ol>
  689. <li><strong>Appear popular at the start</strong>: humans are just like dogs that follow other dogs. So have a legion of disciples and followers. Make them up when you start out. Don’t hesitate to hire actors and internet helpers.</li>
  690. <li><strong>Give the audience the keys to the universe</strong>: flatter your audience by giving them a story wherein they are the heroes capable of great feats as long as they follow a recipe that you are a part of. A good guru knows the secret worries and desires of his audience and orients his stories towards those. If the audience fears asteroids, spin them a story about how the mind can influence the forces of the cosmos responsible for the trajectory of asteroids. If the audience secretly wants to control the weather, tells them about the magical rain dances. If they want to be healed, tell them your theories cure cancer or whatever else they worry about.</li>
  691. <li><strong>Fit the story within the culture of the audience</strong> so that the mechanisms sound familiar and validated. Truth is completely irrelevant for this and is often a hindrance, so you only need to use familiar words and concepts, replacing the actual theories with whatever suits your story. When you talk to a Western audience where science is the source of truth and power, you thus stack your story full of the latest terms in Western science, whether that is gravitational waves, Higgs-Boson particles, intergenerational epigenetic transmissions, blockchain, Modern Monetary Theory, or whatever it is that your audience is likely to have heard of in the news. Use those terms, explain them in a way that is roughly right, and then claim some theory about them that is complete nonsense but suits you.</li>
  692. <li><strong>Do not tax the intelligence of the audience</strong> for if they were smart enough to understand all the things you refer to, they wouldn’t be interested in what you had to say in the first place. So explain things in a very light and emotional storytelling manner. Speak of quantum waves as if they are friends with whom you can have a conversation. Talk about the mysticism of the carbon cycle as if your audience was born with the buttons in their hands that ruled the minutest details of that cycle. Your audience will love you for it because it will make them feel they finally understand these things in a way that makes them feel smart and powerful. Indeed, you basically cannot overdo this part: all that happens if you are spectacularly wrong in one story about some part of modern science is that you lose those members of the audience that really know that part, a negligible number.</li>
  693. <li><strong>Set your audience up slowly</strong> with a hook: offer them something cheap that draws them in and only when they are in so far that they become slightly dependent on more do you increase the demands on their purses. The key thing here is that the audience will trust you if they want to trust you and hence only after you have managed to create a continued need for your message. This is a subtle game of hints, ‘proof’, personal ‘testimonies’ of your previous disciples, stories of how you really are uninterested in money, etc.</li>
  694. <li><strong>Your appearance is everything</strong> so <strong>look the part</strong> and be seen to <strong>believe yourself</strong>, ie walk the walk. Whether you truly do is irrelevant because what matters is the appearance. Truth is no obstacle at all. If your audience needs you to have travelled the stars, simply tell them aliens abducted you and took you for a ride. If the audience wants to hear you spent 10 years in a cave in Tibet, then just tell them that is what you did. If they need you to have 100 kids and 50 wives, just make them up. If there is too much well-known information out there to prove you couldn’t possibly have done what your audience wants to believe, pretend you were in contact with someone who did who was your guru and that you are now following in his footsteps. Similarly, dress and behave the way the audience expects you to, whether that means you must have an enormous beard or a weird antenna sticking out of your behind. Remember the important lesson of Machiavelli: people believe what they see and hear. Don’t worry about the very few who look at your actions and deduce who you truly are: they are not into gurus anyways so you lose nothing by not appealing to them. Your potential followers resent such skeptical characters, so they are no threat to you at all (indeed, the more noise skeptics make about you, the better).</li>
  695. <li><strong>Entertain and be charming. </strong>You have to make the audience want to be you or sleep with you. If you can’t be entertaining and charming, don’t even start.</li>
  696. <li><strong>Have a bible.</strong> If need be, you can have a follower write that bible, but you need a holy book that people can pick over and worship.</li>
  697. <li><strong>Be ambiguous</strong>: no two people truly want the same thing. So in order to have many followers you must create enough ambiguity in your story such that they can all believe something different. Like the bible, tell many different sides of the same story such that different members of the audience can buy into different aspects.</li>
  698. <li><strong>Be scarce</strong>: a guru is like a Ferrari and must not be seen to be available to everyone because that limits the value to the audience of having one. They want to feel special. So when things take off you must become sparing with your time and your new public utterances. Indeed, the best thing is then to die.</li>
  699. </ol>
  700. ]]></content:encoded>
  701. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/the-guru-recipe/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  702. <slash:comments>18</slash:comments>
  703. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32778</post-id> </item>
  704. <item>
  705. <title>Scaling knowledge: Should our disciplines have mesh or tree-like relation to each other?</title>
  706. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/scaling-knowledge-should-our-disciplines-have-mesh-or-tree-like-relation-to-each-other/</link>
  707. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/scaling-knowledge-should-our-disciplines-have-mesh-or-tree-like-relation-to-each-other/#comments</comments>
  708. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Mar 2019 09:38:03 +0000</pubDate>
  709. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  710. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  711.  
  712. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32771</guid>
  713. <description><![CDATA[I&#8217;ve just been reading some of Tim Berners-Lee&#8217;s Weaving the Web about building the World Wide Web and it put me in mind of Paul Frijters&#8217; recent post on teaching the social sciences. Paul argued that: The biggest change needed &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/scaling-knowledge-should-our-disciplines-have-mesh-or-tree-like-relation-to-each-other/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  714. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><img class="detail__media__img-highres  js-detail-img  js-detail-img-high alignright" src="https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fimage.slidesharecdn.com%2F180110-scalingknowledgeinkevictoria-180110202149%2F95%2Fbeyond-open-culture-and-scaling-in-the-making-of-knowledge-1-638.jpg%3Fcb%3D1515615901&amp;f=1" alt="Beyond Open: Culture and Scaling in the Making of Knowledge" width="443" height="249" />I&#8217;ve just been reading some of Tim Berners-Lee&#8217;s <em>Weaving the Web</em> about building the World Wide Web and it put me in mind of Paul Frijters&#8217; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/05/how-social-science-could-be-taught-a-vision-for-the-future/">recent post</a> on teaching the social sciences. Paul argued that:</p>
  715. <p style="padding-left: 30px">The biggest change needed is to teach the material in terms of basic patterns, with more complex arguments taught later as combinations of basic patterns. Another change needed is to enforce a single language on the entire curriculum. Finally, what is needed is far more use of virtual reality-teaching and field trips so that students experience the phenomena they are meant to understand, unlocking their visual acuity and emotional skills as learning tools. Students should learn with their whole being, not merely with their abstractive capacities.</p>
  716. <p>Regarding the first two points, <sup class='footnote'><a href='#fn-32771-1' id='fnref-32771-1' onclick='return fdfootnote_show(32771)'>1</a></sup>Berners-Lee&#8217;s frustrations with the world before he changed it seem to mirror Paul&#8217;s. He was frustrated with the &#8216;tree like&#8217; organisation of knowledge <sup class='footnote'><a href='#fn-32771-2' id='fnref-32771-2' onclick='return fdfootnote_show(32771)'>2</a></sup>. and wanted to invent a looser, more &#8216;associative&#8217; form of knowledge architecture which he called &#8216;mesh&#8217;.</p>
  717. <p>Be that as it may this seems like quite a big deal to me. Indeed, as the internet grew in order to effectively scale it needed to move away from &#8216;tree-like&#8217; architectures for sending data packets through the net as outlined in <a href="https://www.incapsula.com/blog/bgp-routing-explained.html">this write</a> up of the Border Gateway Protocol (or as us aficionados call it the BGP – some of us have only been aficionados for the last couple of minutes, but we&#8217;ll leave that to one side).</p>
  718. <p>Anyway, the way knowledge started being classified in the 19th century was by discipline. Sometimes a discipline disappeared because it was discredited – as in the case of phrenology. But mostly the disciplines stayed in place and each spawned endless sub-disciplines. The disciplines are tree-like structures of knowledge, sometimes paying obsessive attention to their unitary structure as in the case of micro-foundations in economics and selfish genes as in the case of neo-Darwinism.</p>
  719. <p>There are occasional cross-overs, as in the case of behavioural science and economics or imaging and psychology or evolutionary psychology for instance. Interdisciplinarity is spoken of at least by some with reverence, but all the disciplinary incentives are against it and the tree-like structures of each discipline remain in place. Thus these crossovers might be likened to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome">rhizomes</a> rather than any real challenge to the tree-like structure of disciplines and plantation like structures of knowledge generally.</p>
  720. <p>As knowledge has proliferated over the last two centuries, you&#8217;d expect some re-architecture of the relations between disciplines, but there&#8217;s been no systematic change whatever, and what occasional change there has been, has been limited to <em>ad hoc</em> marriages of sub-disciplines where new technical possibilities present themselves or where exhaustion with the sterility of one discipline sets in and some (usually very limited) reaction is in order. An example of the former is where MRI imaging is now used in psychology and even in philosophy and of the latter is behavioural economics or the empirical or &#8216;Freakonomic&#8217; turn in economics (though this is also to some extent the response to the new technical possibilities of &#8216;big data&#8217; and desktop computing).</p>
  721. <div class='footnotes' id='footnotes-32771'>
  722. <div class='footnotedivider'></div>
  723. <ol>
  724. <li id='fn-32771-1'> I won&#8217;t comment on his third point other than including it here because of its importance and my strong agreement with it. <span class='footnotereverse'><a href='#fnref-32771-1'>&#8617;</a></span></li>
  725. <li id='fn-32771-2'> <a href="https://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html">The paper proposing that he work on what became the World Wide Web</a> had a heading &#8220;The problem with trees&#8221; and began &#8220;Many systems are organised hierarchically&#8221; <span class='footnotereverse'><a href='#fnref-32771-2'>&#8617;</a></span></li>
  726. </ol>
  727. </div>
  728. ]]></content:encoded>
  729. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/18/scaling-knowledge-should-our-disciplines-have-mesh-or-tree-like-relation-to-each-other/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  730. <slash:comments>18</slash:comments>
  731. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32771</post-id> </item>
  732. <item>
  733. <title>Review of Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline: Guest Post from Simon Molloy</title>
  734. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/14/review-of-empty-planet-the-shock-of-global-population-decline-guest-post-from-simon-molloy/</link>
  735. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/14/review-of-empty-planet-the-shock-of-global-population-decline-guest-post-from-simon-molloy/#comments</comments>
  736. <pubDate>Thu, 14 Mar 2019 07:48:31 +0000</pubDate>
  737. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  738. <category><![CDATA[Climate Change]]></category>
  739. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  740.  
  741. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32754</guid>
  742. <description><![CDATA[Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline could upend our thinking about our future of planet Earth with far reaching implications for policy on climate change, immigration and border control, defence, education, child care, and jobs, to name just &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/14/review-of-empty-planet-the-shock-of-global-population-decline-guest-post-from-simon-molloy/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  743. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><em><img class="alignright" src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41kFqaOObjL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_.jpg" />Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline</em> could upend our thinking about our future of planet Earth with far reaching implications for policy on climate change, immigration and border control, defence, education, child care, and jobs, to name just a few.</p>
  744. <p>In the face of Hollywood’s habitual dystopianism we have become inculcated with familiar mantras: we are facing a global population crisis, humans are a plague on the planet, we are poisoning the Earth and so on.</p>
  745. <p>These population mantras are wrong. Not just wrong; diametrically wrong, according to the book’s Canadian authors, Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, and journalist, John Ibbitson. They say, “We do not face the challenge of a population bomb but a population bust”.</p>
  746. <p>Based on extensive research aimed at assessing the trajectory of global fertility rates, they argue that “one of the great defining events of human history will occur in three decades, give or take, when global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end”.<span id="more-32754"></span></p>
  747. <p>Even before the arrival of Bricker and Ibbitson’s new work, the population pessimists were overstating their claims. The UN forecasts that population will peak at around 11 billion in 2100 then settle into gentle decline.</p>
  748. <p>But Bricker and Ibbitson assert that the UN has got it wrong. Their investigations suggest that fertility rates are falling much more rapidly around the globe than the UN thinks.</p>
  749. <p>They point out that populations are already declining in two dozen countries – by 2050 it will be three dozen. Japan’s population is expected to fall from 127 million to 95 million by 2053! They say that global population will peak at about 9 billion or less between 2040 and 2060 – a lower and earlier peak than the UN predicts. They also say population post-peak will decline much more quickly that conventionally thought.</p>
  750. <p>Their conclusions are based on published statistics and a series of interviews on every continent supplemented by recent survey data about planned family size.</p>
  751. <p>It has long been known that increasing per capita incomes, economic development and urbanisation led to declining fertility. But in developing countries, fertility rate declines appear to be running well ahead of what could be expected on the basis of their stage of economic development. Why? The answer is female education and information technology. Female school enrolment is rising rapidly and access to information is exploding. Women are being better educated younger, both formally and informally, than ever before. As a result, they are choosing to have fewer babies.</p>
  752. <p>Interviewing a group of women from a slum outside New Delhi, Bricker and Ibbitson report, “From time to time, the women reach under their robes and glance at a backlit screen. Even in the slums of Delhi, women can access a smartphone, a carrier plan, and a network. Even in the slums of Delhi, they hold the sum of human knowledge in their hands”.</p>
  753. <p>The authors dismiss claims that religion and culture dominate other drivers of fertility rates. Claims that, for example, Muslim countries, have higher fertility rates than elsewhere due to religious factors can’t be sustained. The 2010-15 fertility rates for Iran, UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait are all at replacement (2.1) or below and are probably continuing the fall. Developed Muslim countries have low fertility rates just like non-Muslim developed countries. They also argue that immigrates adopt their new homes’ birth rates in one or, at most, two generations.</p>
  754. <p>Economics and education trump religion. Remember when Catholics used to have big families? This is another reason to prioritise education, connectivity and economic development on the global agenda.</p>
  755. <p>What does this mean for governments and policy in Australian and elsewhere in the world? It changes almost everything.</p>
  756. <p>On climate change, other things remaining equal, falling population means we can be less worried. The costs associated with any set of carbon mitigation policies are less justified in the face of lower projected population. Bricker and Ibbitson point out that “if the UN’s low variant [population growth] model played out, relative emissions would decline by 10 percent by 2055 and 35 percent by 2100.”</p>
  757. <p>Notwithstanding the tragedy and visibility for refugees fleeing war, the long-run trend of immigration is downwards. This is because of falling birth rates in developing countries but also because of rising incomes there – there will be fewer people with fewer reasons to leave. Immigrants will become scarcer and, as any economist will tell you, this means their value will rise. Countries will, in future, compete with each other to attract a diminishing supply of immigrants to shore up their falling populations. Countries will compete on the basis of their average incomes, quality of life, and the successfulness of immigrant integration.</p>
  758. <p>Governments will, no doubt, attempt to raise domestic fertility rates. In other countries, the authors report, such efforts are very costly and only very marginally successful. As average incomes rise, the opportunity costs associated with having children do likewise. Perhaps one of the outcomes of population decline will be the emergence of a comprehensive accounting of the costs of child-rearing for parents. These costs include, not only all the usual expenses, but the enormous child-related detriments to career paths, borne mainly by women. A ‘baby bonus’ of, let’s say, $20,000 – <em>per year </em>– anyone? Maybe more.</p>
  759. <p>Population decline is likely to lead to geopolitical instability. Bricker and Ibbitson says that, following its disastrous one child policy and its prohibition of immigration, China’s population could be, astonishingly, as low as 650 million by 2100 if its fertility rates fall in line with those in Hong Kong and Singapore at 1.0 or lower. The associated changes in economic and military power will redefine strategic priorities.</p>
  760. <p>Economic growth will be slower. AI, rather than being a threat to jobs, may come just in time to complement a shrinking workforce. The economic and social consequences are too complex to predict.</p>
  761. <p>And what of the collective psychological implications? It’s one thing to recite platitudes about the ‘human plague’ but it’s entirely another, and somewhat chilling, prospect to contemplate a shrinking human footprint on Earth with no end in sight.</p>
  762. <p>Bricker and Ibbitson’s ideas are a huge reset on thinking about the future, presenting a radical vision of the most important parameter that there is – the number of us that there are.</p>
  763. <p><strong><em>Simon Molloy is an Australian economist who consults on telecommunications and technology in Australia and the developing world. He is Managing Director of consultancy, System Knowledge Concepts Pty Ltd.</em></strong></p>
  764. ]]></content:encoded>
  765. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/14/review-of-empty-planet-the-shock-of-global-population-decline-guest-post-from-simon-molloy/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  766. <slash:comments>18</slash:comments>
  767. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32754</post-id> </item>
  768. <item>
  769. <title>French Film Festival</title>
  770. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/05/french-film-festival/</link>
  771. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/05/french-film-festival/#comments</comments>
  772. <pubDate>Tue, 05 Mar 2019 10:15:52 +0000</pubDate>
  773. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  774. <category><![CDATA[Films and TV]]></category>
  775.  
  776. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32744</guid>
  777. <description><![CDATA[Festival Website &#124; Films &#124; Schedule Top Picks The Trouble With You (Opening Night) Yvonne is the principled young widow of the local police chief who was killed in the line of duty. Each night she puts their young son &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/05/french-film-festival/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  778. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<div style="text-align: center;font-size: x-large"><strong><a title="Festival Website" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Festival Website</a> | <a title="Films" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/films/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Films</a> | <a title="Schedule" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/films/melbourne#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Schedule</a></strong></div>
  779. <div style="font-size: x-large;text-align: center"><strong>Top Picks</strong></div>
  780. <div>
  781. <hr />
  782. </div>
  783. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFVAQk_zu-c" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/the-trouble-with-you/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Trouble With You</a></strong> <em>(Opening Night)</em></div>
  784. <div style="text-align: justify">Yvonne is the principled young widow of the local police chief who was killed in the line of duty. Each night she puts their young son to sleep with tales of his daring and bravery, and so naturally Yvonne is horrified to learn that her husband was not the embodiment of virtue as she had been led to believe-an innocent man named Antoine, has spent eight years falsely imprisoned as a result of his corruption! Yvonne decides to do everything she can to help return the hapless parolee to his regular life and devoted fiancé. Unfortunately, Antoine has trouble adjusting back to society, and soon blows a fuse that leads to an hilarious trail of destruction, where moral, social and romantic obligations are put to the test in a spectacular way.</div>
  785. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7534068/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  786. <div>
  787. <hr />
  788. </div>
  789. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihrtFrtKupQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/amanda/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Amanda</a></strong></div>
  790. <div style="text-align: justify">David is a carefree 20-something in the throes of a new romance with Lena, and lives a carefree life until an incident abruptly forces him to assume the guardianship of his seven-year-old niece, Amanda.</div>
  791. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7491144/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  792. <div>
  793. <hr />
  794. </div>
  795. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AorZ5LKB3dg" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/by-the-grace-of-god/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">By The Grace Of God</a></strong></div>
  796. <div style="text-align: justify">Alexandre lives in Lyon with his wife and children. One day, quite by chance, he discovers that the priest who abused him when he was a member of a boy scout troop is still working with children. Determined to see justice served, Alexandre re-establishes contact with his boyhood friends – also victims of the same priest – François and Emmanuel. The men vow to ‘lift the burden of silence’. However, as the institutional weight and power of the Catholic Church bears down on this defiant group of survivors determined to tell their story, no one is left unscathed.</div>
  797. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8095860/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  798. <div>
  799. <hr />
  800. </div>
  801. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhundZUoYmE" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/celebration-yves-saint-laurent/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent</a></strong></div>
  802. <div style="text-align: justify">Two decades after its filming, Olivier Meyrou’s controversial yet exquisitely drawn portrait of France’s last great fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, has finally seen the light of day, having previously been withheld from release by Saint Laurent’s business partner, Pierre Bergé. Echoing its ambiguous title, <em>Celebration</em> goes behind-the-scenes to present both Yves the Legend and Yves the Man, as he prepares his final collection before the fashion house was sold to Gucci in 1999. Icons of the glamour industry and the many top models who have donned Saint Laurent’s gowns – show their unerring dedication to the fashion house and its namesake. And then there’s Yves himself – on the one hand, larger than life and, on the other, astonishingly reclusive, irritable and even inelegant.</div>
  803. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970174/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  804. <p><span id="more-32744"></span></p>
  805. <div>
  806. <hr />
  807. </div>
  808. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdzu26tnUTc" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/girl/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Girl</a></strong></div>
  809. <div style="text-align: justify">Lara is an adolescent transgender girl from Belgium. Her struggle is not so much with her gender identity as with her passion to become a professional ballerina. Supported by her Francophone father and younger brother, she commences her journey into gender reassignment, yet her teenage impatience and the immense pressures of ballet push Lara to the brink.</div>
  810. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/review/girl-2018-film-review-by-richard-mowe" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Eye For Film</a></div>
  811. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8254556/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  812. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.slantmagazine.com/film/girl/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Slant Magazine</a></div>
  813. <div>
  814. <hr />
  815. </div>
  816. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgnGpRcJzhg" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/in-safe-hands-pupille/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Safe Hands (Pupille)</a></strong></div>
  817. <div style="text-align: justify"><em>In Safe Hands</em> throws us deep into the milieu of the French social assistance services where the fate of one baby boy exposes the conflicting conundrums faced by many women – those giving up their babies and those desperate to have their own. When baby Theo’s birth mother surrenders him to adoption, child protection services, and officers such as Karine, are called to action, and the harsh realities of the adoption process are pulled into sharp focus. Karine entrusts Theo to Jean – no stranger to the foster system himself – who takes on the responsibility of the newborn until a suitable home can be found. Meanwhile, Alice has never given up the fight to be a mother and faces the prospect of this dream finally coming true, although nothing is certain.</div>
  818. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7543930/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  819. <div>
  820. <hr />
  821. </div>
  822. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Tvl1Fuxt8" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/last-year-at-marienbad/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Last Year At Marienbad</a></strong></div>
  823. <div style="text-align: justify">Over half a century has passed; yet, Alain Resnais’ para-surrealist masterpiece is as powerful today as when originally released at the height of the French New Wave. Set within a breathtakingly ornate Baroque mansion seemingly frozen in time, which the camera captures through continuous panning of its sumptuous interiors, Last Year at Marienbad focuses on two central, unnamed characters – one a French woman and an Italian man. They may have been lovers at the hotel the previous year but the woman denies knowing him, while another man – possibly her husband – asserts his dominance by constantly challenging and beating the Italian man at the mathematical game of nim.</div>
  824. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054632/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  825. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/last-year-at-marienbad/5981/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Slant Magazine</a></div>
  826. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆☆</span> <a title="Review" href="http://www.themoviewaffler.com/2018/09/bluray-review-last-year-in-marienbad.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Movie Waffler</a></div>
  827. <div>
  828. <hr />
  829. </div>
  830. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M45iQnJUm0" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/promise-at-dawn/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Promise At Dawn</a></strong></div>
  831. <div style="text-align: justify"><em>Promise At Dawn</em> is the ‘fictionalised’ telling of author and diplomat Romain Gary&#8217;s early life. We’re thrown into a tumultuous trajectory that twists and turns across a difficult childhood in Poland, a sun-drenched adolescence in Nice and through to piloting adventures in Africa. At every touchstone in Gary’s life, his mother Nina leaves her ineffaceable mark. With boundless dreams and huge aspirations, she is the momentum that propels Gary forward, eventually culminating in the novel of Promise at Dawn that he feverishly writes as his life comes to a close during the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico.</div>
  832. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5061360/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  833. <div>
  834. <hr />
  835. </div>
  836. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t24K8KFiv7k" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/sink-or-swim/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sink Or Swim</a></strong></div>
  837. <div style="text-align: justify">A disparate group of 40-somethings – all in the throes of mid-life crises – form a localswimming pool’s inaugural, males-only synchronised swimming team. Staring down ongoing ridicule and contempt from all angles, they engage a fallen champion, Delphine as their coach, supported by her tough-as-nails former swim partner Amanda. Unwittingly, the team members embark on an unlikely journey of redemption that sees each one of them rebuild some sense of their self-worth.</div>
  838. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7476116/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  839. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2018/05/14/cannes-film-festival-2018-sink-or-swim-le-grand-bain-review/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Upcoming</a></div>
  840. <div>
  841. <hr />
  842. </div>
  843. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGhfBw67dWE" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/the-fall-of-the-american-empire/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Fall Of The American Empire</a></strong></div>
  844. <div style="text-align: justify">Pierre-Paul is a listless loser with a PhD in Philosophy who feels his job as a delivery driver is well below him. His mundane life is turned upside down when, by luck, he finds himself saddled with a princely sum in stolen cash. Enlisting the help of an ex-con with a finance degree, Sylvain, and a Racine-quoting callgirl, Aspasie, Pierre-Paul considers what to do with the loot, as he tries to outmanoeuvre the heisters who want ‘their’ money back.</div>
  845. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7231342/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  846. <div>
  847. <hr />
  848. </div>
  849. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAskzATgODc" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/the-ideal-palace/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Ideal Palace</a></strong></div>
  850. <div style="text-align: justify">Based on the remarkable true story of Joseph Ferdinand Cheval. Set in the south of France in 1879, Cheval is a humble postman. He leads an unassuming life, seemingly revelling in the solitude of his 20-mile delivery routes and daydreaming about the world of wonders that he only sees through the postcards and magazines he delivers. He meets and falls in love with the breathtaking Philomène, and the arrival of their baby daughter, Alice, causes him to look at things in a different way. He sets about building a castle for Alice – one fit for a princess – that consumes the next 30-plus years of his life. This castle eventually becomes recognised as an enduring and important French historical monument.</div>
  851. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7248884/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  852. <div>
  853. <hr />
  854. </div>
  855. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CatRgWd6GnQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/wine-calling/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wine Calling</a></strong></div>
  856. <div style="text-align: justify">This documentary offers ample servings of energy and enthusiasm, as it introduces us to the renegades – the rebels, the critical thinkers and the ethically minded – who have waged something of a revolution in Catalonia, in the south of France, as part of a rising global movement in improved taste and sustainability. In doing so, they’ve chosen the hard road but one of immeasurable satisfaction. As one of the winemakers confesses, “I’m giving birth; that’s what it’s like.” With <em>Wine Calling</em>, you won’t bear witness to a meditation on pastoral tranquillity; but rather experience something far more rock ‘n’ roll in spirit.</div>
  857. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8135554/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  858. <div>
  859. <hr />
  860. </div>
  861. <div style="font-size: large"><a title="Trailer" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7UYKKU9ihE" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img class="alignnone wp-image-1060" src="https://bugsuniversal.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/trailer-icon-03.png?w=300" alt="Trailer Icon 03" width="20" height="20" /></a> <strong><a title="Synopsis" href="https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/kiss-tell/melbourne" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Kiss &amp; Tell</a></strong> <em>(Closing Night)</em></div>
  862. <div style="text-align: justify">Julien is a man haunted by a secret. Julien’s son, Alex, finds out that 17 year-old Eva has neglected to tell him he&#8217;s going to be a father. Eva&#8217;s mother, Véro, fears the worst for her grandchild. While Elizabeth, whose husband, Bertrand has disappeared into thin air, witnesses her home trashed by a search warrant.</div>
  863. <div><span style="color: #ff0000">☆☆☆</span><span style="color: #999999">☆☆</span> <a title="Review" href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8763008/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IMDB</a></div>
  864. <div>
  865. <hr />
  866. </div>
  867. ]]></content:encoded>
  868. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/03/05/french-film-festival/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  869. <slash:comments>2</slash:comments>
  870. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32744</post-id> </item>
  871. <item>
  872. <title>Burnheim on Gray on Hayek</title>
  873. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/burnheim-on-gray-on-hayek/</link>
  874. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/burnheim-on-gray-on-hayek/#comments</comments>
  875. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Feb 2019 12:07:11 +0000</pubDate>
  876. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  877. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  878. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  879. <category><![CDATA[Philosophy]]></category>
  880. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  881.  
  882. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32730</guid>
  883. <description><![CDATA[A few years ago I read some John Gray on Friedrich Hayek. In short, he&#8217;s very good on Hayek, though he seems to have moved on rather to larger topics, not always to good effect. Anyway, If you have the best part &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/burnheim-on-gray-on-hayek/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  884. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<div id="attachment_32731" style="width: 650px" class="wp-caption alignleft"><img class="wp-image-32731 size-full" src="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/18200527/proxy.duckduckgo.png" alt="" width="640" height="400" srcset="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/18200527/proxy.duckduckgo.png 640w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/18200527/proxy.duckduckgo-300x188.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Friedrich Hayek was notoriously less savvy with photoshoots than some of his relatives.</p></div>
  885. <p>A few years ago I read some John Gray on Friedrich Hayek. In short, he&#8217;s very good on Hayek, though he seems to have moved on rather to larger topics, not always to good effect. Anyway, If you have the best part of an hour, you could do a lot worse than read <a href="https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/hayek-and-classical-liberalism-a-bibliographical-essay-by-john-gray">Gray on Hayek</a> back in 1982 when Gray was (I think) something of a fellow traveller (and it was less evident how badly some neoliberal reform would go – I&#8217;m looking at you GFC). And <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/07/john-gray-friedrich-hayek-i-knew-and-what-he-got-right-and-wrong">here&#8217;s</a> an excellent revisiting of Hayek 33 years later. I recommend both heartily.</p>
  886. <p>I really should have written the words above just to let you know of two excellent essays, but I probably wouldn&#8217;t have bothered but for the reaction I got from John Burnheim when I sent him a link to the first essay above. Below the fold are the words he sent back in reply. As usual, there seems to be a vast depth of thought behind his words.  <span id="more-32730"></span></p>
  887. <p style="padding-left: 30px">I think Gray is right about Hayek, but wrong in endorsing him. Hayek was a conservative liberal; whose hero was Mill. One libertarian had a point in characterising him as moderate social democrat. I once made a close comparison of him and Marx in relation to Socialism. Marx disliked socialism, but thought it necessary to destroy capitalism and open the way to Communism, the freedom of the producers. Hayek claimed to share the humanitarian values of the social democrats, but said he disagreed about how to realise them. Capitalism freed the producers and rewarded them for producing what people wanted. Market prices are the unique way of transmitting the necessary information. Marx admitted that he did not know how communists would achieve that. Both were wrong in their own way, but right in rejecting the egalitarianism of the socialist regimentation.</p>
  888. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Where both were wrong was in assuming that a society must have only one way of dealing with all human wants instead of admitting that different needs, especially needs for public goods might require different means of production and distribution or that a society consists pf a multiplicity of overlapping communities. Both suffered from the disease of philosophy.</p>
  889. <p style="padding-left: 30px">What I like about both is their emphasis on the importance of the dynamics of social practices as opposed to ideals as the determinant of social roles and their outcomes on a much broader front than the economy. But both fail to get it right, In H’s case because of his Kantian errors. One mistake was to accept the traditional idea that knowledge consists of nebulous pictures that we just see or look at. As C S Peirce discovered, knowledge of an object is a capacity to deal with it successfully in its theoretical and practical connections.</p>
  890. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Far from having no knowledge of things in themselves, we have extraordinarily precise and extensive knowledge of the external world, though we have not reliable imaged of it. Contrary to the traditional assumption that knowledge refers to perfect, immaterial ideas that get distorted in material instances, it turns out that matter can be known exactly, but spiritual ideas are complicated and messy. It is not the structure of our minds that brings order into live experience, but the structure of our methods of identifying, dissecting and interrelating things.</p>
  891. <p style="padding-left: 30px">However. because complexes have properties that go beyond those of their components, the knowledge of physical reality is of little use in helping members of complexes to understand the complexes to which they belong, and the modes of theorisation appropriate to those components themselves are often inappropriate to understanding the complexes, We know quite a lot about the components of our brains but hardly anything about its functional dynamics and how it is encoded with cognitive and emotive signifiers. What is pretty certain is that its workings are nothing like those of digital models.</p>
  892. <p style="padding-left: 30px">None of this is to say that we don&#8217;t have many snippets of knowledge independently of science. They and even much science is contextual in ways we cannot allow for. That is why I always present my views about solutions to practical problems as suggestions and it is in this guise that I believe one should read others</p>
  893. ]]></content:encoded>
  894. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/burnheim-on-gray-on-hayek/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  895. <slash:comments>8</slash:comments>
  896. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32730</post-id> </item>
  897. <item>
  898. <title>When is a conversation not a conversation? When it&#8217;s a political conversation.</title>
  899. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/when-is-a-conversation-not-a-conversation-when-its-a-political-conversation/</link>
  900. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/when-is-a-conversation-not-a-conversation-when-its-a-political-conversation/#comments</comments>
  901. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Feb 2019 07:52:47 +0000</pubDate>
  902. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  903. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  904.  
  905. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32725</guid>
  906. <description><![CDATA[I It looks like liberal democracy is falling apart. But we can put it back together if we take democracy seriously enough—as seriously as the ancient Greeks. The chaos of Donald Trump was unimaginable just a decade ago. Brexit was &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/when-is-a-conversation-not-a-conversation-when-its-a-political-conversation/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  907. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<header class="entry-header">
  908. <div class="entry-author"></div>
  909. </header>
  910. <div class="entry-thumbnail">
  911. <div class="entry-author">
  912. <div style="width: 750px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img class="detail__media__img-highres js-detail-img js-detail-img-high" src="https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fdemocracychronicles.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Faristotle-democracy11.jpg&amp;f=1" alt="Violence in Bahrain as Democracy Protesters Take to Streets" width="740" height="400" /><p class="wp-caption-text">This essay is cross posted from <a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/">Quillette</a></p></div>
  913. </div>
  914. </div>
  915. <div class="entry-content">
  916. <p><strong>I</strong></p>
  917. <p>It looks like liberal democracy is falling apart. But we can put it back together if we take democracy seriously enough—as seriously as the ancient Greeks.</p>
  918. <p>The chaos of Donald Trump was unimaginable just a decade ago. Brexit was a similar humiliation for Britain’s political class, leading to its bewildered paralysis ever since. How do such things happen? Perhaps because I admire economists’ deployment of very simple ideas to powerful effect, I’ve come to an approach to these problems that I think is simple and compelling.</p>
  919. <p>First, democracy is government by conversation. A political conversation should often be competitive—to sharpen ideas and measure their support. Yet, to remain a conversation rather than a parody of one, it must also be a co-operative search, if not for agreement, then at least for mutual understanding of where positions differ. However, this co-operative foundation for our politics has been largely extinguished by the weaponisation of political communication by professionals operating on the mass media, and, more recently by “trolling” on social media.</p>
  920. <p>Second, where elections bake competition into the operating system of representation, there’s another, even more time honoured way to represent the people. The ancient Greeks built their democracy around it and it hides in plain sight today whenever a jury is empanelled in a court of law. And, whether it concerns legal or political matters, deliberation within such bodies nurtures the collaborative aspects of conversation. Giving citizens’ juries and assemblies chosen by lot a role within our beleaguered democracy could see it renewed.</p>
  921. <p><strong>II</strong></p>
  922. <p>To become a politician you compete for election. You then join party colleagues competing against their opponents. Yet democracy implies <em>limits</em> to competition. We remain safe for now that no substantial political grouping perpetuates extra-legal violence. Yet something more fundamental is afoot.</p>
  923. <p>Though it apes the <em>form</em> of conversation, political communication has become as professionalised, as optimised to the competition to win votes as McDonald’s use of salt, fat, sugar and advertising is to win customers. Meanwhile, responding to similar competitive imperatives, the informational foundations of our democracy were being shorn away by mass media news values long before the internet arrived. Between 1968 and 1988, the length of presidential sound bites on US network news went from 43 to 9 seconds.<sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1">1</a></sup></p>
  924. <p>The singleminded goal of each player in mass media political conversation is to manipulate it to their own end. Politicians rehearse “focus grouped” talking points and slogans like “take back control” and “roll up our sleeves” available on online lists (<a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-luntz/words-2011_b_829603.html">seriously!</a>). Spokespeople cherry pick arguments, spurious or otherwise to defend their vested interest—until the they argue the opposite for their next client or employer. As Groucho put it, “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I’ve got others.”</p>
  925. <p>Our language and etiquette are being transformed by the imperatives of political and ideological combat. The repertoire of “moves” now labelled “political correctness” have grown like bacteria in a petri dish in no small part because of their success as tactics in political debate. Taking offence, “checking” privilege, and associated strictures offer trump cards to instantly ideologise and emotionalise a conversation to one side’s tactical advantage.<span id="more-32725"></span></p>
  926. <p><strong>III</strong></p>
  927. <p>In a healthy democracy, the journalist’s role should surely be to report and probe in the public interest. Yet almost invariably, issues are framed reductively in terms of competing participants’ talking points, with disagreements reduced to “he-said-she-said.” As Paul Krugman <a href="https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/19/character-assassination/">put it</a>, the response to one of these competitors announcing the world is flat would be the headline “Views differ on shape of Earth.”</p>
  928. <p>When playing “ringmaster,” journalists simulate truth-seeking but again, their real schtick is usually reductively competitive. Their subjects’ talking points frame the issues with journalists stoking disagreement where they can—it’s so much more engaging and instantly relatable than exploring for common ground.</p>
  929. <p>They then celebrate their <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms548AkFP5s">“savvy”</a> as insiders to the whole process with breathless “race calling” commentary on who’s winning the debate—from &#8216;he-said-she-said&#8217; to &#8216;he’s-winning-she’s-winning&#8217;. Only this isn’t really about who is winning the <em>debate</em>, but whose tactics are working better, at least for those within the insiders&#8217; echo-chamber. As Todd Gitlin put it—again long before internet campaigning—rather than being informed on the issues, the audience is invited to become “cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement.”<sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftn2" name="_ftnref2">2</a></sup></p>
  930. <p>A more recent variant on similarly reductive themes has been partisan mainstream media such as Fox News. Here the journalist MC and programming goes <em>agent provocateur, </em>for viewers to enjoy the fun of barracking for their ideology and hounding its enemies. As Fox News boss Chet Collier put it, “Viewers don’t want to be informed; they want to feel informed.”</p>
  931. <p>With these rules of engagement, political coverage becomes wall-to-wall bullshit—in the technical sense defined by philosopher Harry Frankfurt. The speaker’s concern isn’t with truth or (more shockingly perhaps) with its falsity, but with “putting themselves over,” whether as concerned, contrite, respectable, or compassionate. Until their next gig.</p>
  932. <p>Against all this, one can appreciate Donald Trump’s countercultural attraction—the least scripted, and most authentic, president in generations. A troll in his own cause.</p>
  933. <p><strong>IV</strong></p>
  934. <p>There’s been a flowering of marvellous political conversation on the internet. But that’s not where the political or commercial action is. For all its uncanny simulation of conversation, internet trolling completes the weaponisation of conversation.</p>
  935. <p>Where mass media’s production cost makes it necessarily ponderous, social media is improvisational, a place where anyone can mount a potentially devastating disinformation attack in minutes, destroying careers in an eye-blink. And while one can imagine strategies to counter inaccurate facts in “fake news,” how does one counter trolls spreading misunderstanding of others’ <em>motives</em> in a way that precludes the <em>possibility</em> of conversation?</p>
  936. <p>With mass media having done the softening up, social media is finishing the job. Our political system still delivers politicians afraid of not running the trains on time. But mainstream political<em> conversation</em> is a corpse, twitching as professional communicators and AI powered trolls commandeer human reflexes that evolved to foster communication and mutual understanding on the African Savannah, to stoke fear, loathing, and misunderstanding.</p>
  937. <p><strong>V</strong></p>
  938. <p>That we’re being increasingly betrayed by political elites is true enough. Until social media turned toxic, many imagined it enabling us to “take back control” (if I might use that term).<sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftn3" name="_ftnref3">3</a></sup> Like the glamorous assistant disappearing once inside the magician’s cabinet, only to miraculously reappear moments later, here the populace disappear when we go looking for the culprit responsible for the toxic state of our political culture, only to reappear as our deliverer moments later.</p>
  939. <p>Though our choices and votes reward the clickbait and news values of the media and politicians practicing their own dark arts, we remain the victim throughout, not of our own folly, but of manipulation by an other.</p>
  940. <p>Can “we the people” save democracy by coming into our own as a deliberative force? We’ve been warned since Socrates and Plato on, that, left unsupervised, the <em>hoi polloi</em> become “the mob” at the drop of a hat. But surely the media diet of bread and circuses, this school of infantilism is part of this mess.</p>
  941. <p><strong>VI</strong></p>
  942. <p>Given the central role of the emotions as the motive force in political engagement, we should heed Martha Nussbaum’s advice in her book <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Political-Emotions-Martha-C-Nussbaum/dp/0674503805">Political Emotions</a></em>: not to banish them from political discourse – it would be impossible and unwise to try – but to strive for their health. Any functioning polity will mobilise and nurture the emotions of shared identity. This is necessary to the community’s survival if it must fight an enemy—as in World War Two. However, it can also be disastrous when it should talk more before fighting at all, or fighting on—as in World War One and most other wars that have ever been waged.</p>
  943. <p>Yet, as we’re observing, in a diverse, liberal society at peace, no matter how much it serves the interests of mass and social media operatives in revving us up to hit their KPIs, too heavy an emphasis on identity can be highly corrosive. It’s transforming our politics into competing witch-hunts against ritualised “others” whether they’re fat cat bosses, “elites,” tax cheats, skivers, or welfare queens.</p>
  944. <p>Against this, Nussbaum proposes that political emotions should inspire to worthy collective projects requiring effort and sacrifice from national defence to protecting the poor and weak. It’s partly by so doing that liberal politics must labour…</p>
  945. <blockquote><p>…to keep at bay forces that lurk in all societies and ultimately, in all of us: tendencies to protect the fragile self by denigrating and subordinating others. .… Disgust and envy, the desire to inflict shame upon others.</p></blockquote>
  946. <p>Nussbaum contrasts “masculine” emotions (associating them with competition and aggression) against the other “feminine” emotions (which build cooperation and care within the group). These emotions line up very neatly against the two ways of representing the people—by election and by lot.</p>
  947. <p><strong>VII</strong></p>
  948. <p>The same people whose eyeballs, clicks, and votes drive the toxicity of the politico-entertainment complex as served up by political elites behave differently deliberating amongst peers. When a citizens’ jury is first assembled, because its subject is political, most jurors arrive having assumed that there’ll be the usual combative fare, complete with activists revving things up—the usual politicking as road rage. They’re surprised at how respectful and cooperative others are. Then they remember that they’re just like them and things fall into place.</p>
  949. <p>“I’m a man, I’m six foot two,” reported one citizens’ juror considering the safety and vibrancy of Adelaide’s nightlife. “I have no considerations for my safety. Then being with other people—older, smaller, females—you learn that their experiences are very different.”<sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftn4" name="_ftnref4">4</a></sup></p>
  950. <p>Imagine that issue presented on mass media. There’d be (say) feminist activists against domestic violence arguing against a hoteliers association spokesperson. The activists would want to be newsworthy to get media coverage, while hotelier’s spokesperson would present arguments we’d all know lacked all <em>bona fides</em>, cherrypicked to support their own interest.</p>
  951. <p>Citizens’ juries also engender substantial changes in view. They tend towards compromise rather than polarisation and pro-social, less punitive strategies for solving social dilemmas. In Texas, the proportion of citizens willing to pay a little more for wind and solar energy to address greenhouse concerns went from 52 to 84 percent.<sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftn5" name="_ftnref5">5</a></sup> In Oregon, where citizens’ juries now preview all citizen initiated referendums to advise the populace, a mandatory sentencing proposal enjoying 70 percent opinion poll support received just three jurors’ votes in 24 after deliberations concluded. This seems to have been part of a swing reducing the vote in favour of the proposal by nearly 15%.</p>
  952. <p><strong>VIII</strong></p>
  953. <p>Even without any formal political power, a standing citizens’ assembly would reveal the people’s <em>considered</em> opinion as opposed to their <em>unconsidered</em> opinion measured by endless opinion polls. (Would you prefer the people’s considered, or unconsidered view?) This would have its own effect on elected politicians. If politicians won’t agree to fund a citizens’ assembly initially, philanthropists large and small can crowdfund it.</p>
  954. <p>Imagine how the energies of our vote hungry political elite might find more considered and cooperative ways through the dramas of Brexit or government shutdowns if there were a standing citizens’ chamber making their own collective views known.</p>
  955. <p>As the community’s experience with it grows, we should expand its power. Given elected legislators’ repeated inflictions of national self-harm for partisan reasons against their own better judgement, I’d give a super majority of (say) 60 percent of the members of a citizens’ assembly the power to impose a secret ballot on other legislative chambers. This could be helpful in Britain regarding Brexit, in America regarding Trump’s more obviously ill-advised moves over the government shutdown and trade wars, and in Australia where the imperatives of political combat saw parliamentarians abolish carbon pricing against their own better judgement of the national interest.</p>
  956. <p>Joseph Schumpeter was an early proponent of the idea that electoral democracy was, and should be embraced as, a competition by a political elite for the consent of the governed. This made some sense where national cultures and class structures were unitary and strong 80-odd years ago. But, taking it to its logical conclusion as we do today, reveals it as a category mistake. Democracy is not a product. It is, as Aristotle reminds us, a system in which everyone takes turn in governing and being governed.</p>
  957. <p>It’s time we set out on the hefty and happy task of setting it right.</p>
  958. <p><strong>References:</strong></p>
  959. <p><sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftnref1" name="_ftn1">1</a></sup> Adatto, K., 1990. <em>Sound bite democracy: Network evening news presidential campaign coverage, 1968 and 1988</em>. Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Reported also in John Tierney, “The 1992: Media; Sound Bites Become Smaller Mouthfuls” Jan. 23, 1992 at<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/23/us/the-1992-campaign-media-sound-bites-become-smaller-mouthfuls.html">https://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/23/us/the-1992-campaign-media-sound-bites-become-smaller-mouthfuls.html</a><br />
  960. <sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftnref2" name="_ftn2">2</a> </sup>Gitlin, T., 1991. Bites and blips: chunk news, savvy talk and the bifurcation of American politics. <em>Communication and citizenship</em>, p.117 at p. 119.<br />
  961. <sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftnref3" name="_ftn3">3</a></sup> See eg. Trippi, J. 2008. <em>The revolution will not be televised</em>, Harper-Collins e-books, Kindle edition.<br />
  962. <sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftnref4" name="_ftn4">4</a></sup> The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), 2013. “Verdicts on the Jury, Views of jurors, bureaucrats and experts on South Australia’s first Citizens’ Jury”, mimeo, p. 6, currently available at <a href="https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/assets.yoursay.sa.gov.au/production/2014/08/22/01_45_56_391_Verdicts_on_the_Jury_TACSI.pdf">https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/assets.yoursay.sa.gov.au/production/2014/08/22/01_45_56_391_Verdicts_on_the_Jury_TACSI.pdf</a><br />
  963. <sup><a href="https://quillette.com/2019/02/16/polarisation-and-the-case-for-citizens-juries/#_ftnref5" name="_ftn5">5</a></sup> And see “The impact of deliberation on empathy and common interest”, <em>Involve</em>, more generally at <a href="https://goo.gl/NVrqsD">https://goo.gl/NVrqsD</a></p>
  964. </div>
  965. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  966. ]]></content:encoded>
  967. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/18/when-is-a-conversation-not-a-conversation-when-its-a-political-conversation/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  968. <slash:comments>107</slash:comments>
  969. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32725</post-id> </item>
  970. <item>
  971. <title>The Public Goods of the 21st Century</title>
  972. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/16/the-public-goods-of-the-21st-century/</link>
  973. <pubDate>Sat, 16 Feb 2019 06:44:33 +0000</pubDate>
  974. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  975. <category><![CDATA[Art and Architecture]]></category>
  976. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  977. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  978.  
  979. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32720</guid>
  980. <description><![CDATA[For those of you in Melbourne, I thought I&#8217;d let you know of a public lecture I&#8217;m giving on Thursday night this coming week details below. If you&#8217;d like to come, make your free reservation on this page. Thought Leadership Series Lecture &#124; The Public Goods of the &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/16/the-public-goods-of-the-21st-century/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  981. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>For those of you in Melbourne, I thought I&#8217;d let you know of a public lecture I&#8217;m giving on Thursday night this coming week details below. If you&#8217;d like to come, make your free reservation on <a href="https://www.swinburne.edu.au/events/departments/research/2019/02/thought-leadership-series-lecture--the-public-goods-of-the-21st-century.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this page</a>.</p>
  982. <h2>Thought Leadership Series Lecture | The Public Goods of the 21st Century</h2>
  983. <table>
  984. <tbody>
  985. <tr>
  986. <td><strong>Date:</strong></td>
  987. <td>Thursday 21 February 2019</td>
  988. </tr>
  989. <tr>
  990. <td><strong>Time:</strong></td>
  991. <td>5.30pm – 7pm</td>
  992. </tr>
  993. <tr>
  994. <td><strong>Venue:</strong></td>
  995. <td>Engineers Australia Level 30, 600 Bourke St, Melbourne &#8211;&gt;</td>
  996. </tr>
  997. <tr>
  998. <td><strong>Cost:</strong></td>
  999. <td>Free. <a href="https://www.swinburne.edu.au/events/departments/research/2019/02/thought-leadership-series-lecture--the-public-goods-of-the-21st-century.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Enrol here</a></td>
  1000. </tr>
  1001. </tbody>
  1002. </table>
  1003. <p style="padding-left: 30px">At elite and popular levels, we think markets provide private goods competitively and governments provide public goods like streets and street lights collectively. But, as the eighteenth-century founder of modern economics Adam Smith understood, the real story is much richer. Any social artefact of any sophistication from a conversation to a smart phone to a city is an ecology of competitive and collaborative elements at numerous levels within the system.</p>
  1004. <p style="padding-left: 30px">This lecture will explore the landscape of the private and the shared in the 21<sup>st</sup> century. Digital collaboration is burgeoning <strong>as</strong> with open source software whilst in the ‘analogue’ world<strong>,</strong> the public good of our social fabric is coming under immense pressure. The lecture will seek new ways of understanding these things to help <strong>build</strong> the world we want.</p>
  1005. ]]></content:encoded>
  1006. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32720</post-id> </item>
  1007. <item>
  1008. <title>I Wish I&#8217;d Asked: Eileen Torney edition</title>
  1009. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/09/i-wish-id-asked-eileen-torney-edition/</link>
  1010. <pubDate>Sat, 09 Feb 2019 05:21:13 +0000</pubDate>
  1011. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  1012. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  1013.  
  1014. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32707</guid>
  1015. <description><![CDATA[About a year ago my wife Eva and a friend of hers, Danny Finley started working on a program designed to tackle loneliness through intergenerational contact. Kids  are paired with older people in their community through contact between schools and aged &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/09/i-wish-id-asked-eileen-torney-edition/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1016. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='640' height='390' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/XWwLCNgs37Q?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></p>
  1017. <p>About a year ago my wife Eva and a friend of hers, Danny Finley started working on a program designed to tackle loneliness through intergenerational contact. Kids  are paired with older people in their community through contact between schools and aged care institutions. This is all developed with local communities, the first cab off the rank being Shepparton. A range of activities are ensuing, including story telling leading to the building of online oral histories, the teaching of recipes and cooking, dancing and the &#8216;reverse mentoring&#8217; of computer literacy. It&#8217;s origin in the first of these initiatives is captured in Danny&#8217;s fantastic name for it – <em>I Wish I&#8217;d Asked</em>.</p>
  1018. <p>There&#8217;s growing enthusiasm from local institutions including Rotary, the local council and Latrobe Uni which has a campus there.</p>
  1019. <p>Anyway, the trigger for this post was Eva showing me some poems from Eileen Torney who is her 80s and lives in Shepparton Villages – a fantastically good aged care provider in Shepp. I liked them and reproduce them below:</p>
  1020. <h2 style="padding-left: 30px">Privilege</h2>
  1021. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Generations of work and expertise<br />
  1022. had been repaid the farm was doing well<br />
  1023. my mother decided I should board<br />
  1024. at Genazzano a prestigious Convent school where her Aunt Mary was a nun<br />
  1025. not one who taught but a humble cook and cleaner pious unworldly subservient<br />
  1026. at the bottom of their clearly defined pecking order</p>
  1027. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Dressed in our best clothes<br />
  1028. we visited Aunt Mary and in the stylish parlour<br />
  1029. my mother announced that she wished to enrol me<br />
  1030. and Aunt Mary went to fetch the Mother Superior<br />
  1031. who refused to come<br />
  1032. We cater for the rich was the message she sent<br />
  1033. send her to Vaucluse our cheaper school<br />
  1034. in vain my mother argued that she could pay the fees<br />
  1035. she thought that was what being rich meant<br />
  1036. Your home would not be suitable<br />
  1037. if she invited friends (though she had never seen it)<br />
  1038. send her to Vaucluse</p>
  1039. <p style="padding-left: 30px">As I rise in the mornings my cat demands her treat she is a registered vet-checked and privileged cat. Outside the glass door a stray meows and pleads an illegal refugee but I couldn&#8217;t let it starve<br />
  1040. I poke a tray of pellets through the door and close it again tell it I run a soup kitchen not an adoption agency.</p>
  1041. <p style="padding-left: 30px">I call one cat Genazzano<br />
  1042. and the other one Vaucluse.</p>
  1043. <p><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='640' height='390' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/XWwLCNgs37Q?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></p>
  1044. <p>This video was not filmed in Shepparton and has nothing directly to do with <em>I Wish I&#8217;d Asked</em>, but it would be fun if it could be brought off!</p>
  1045. <p><span id="more-32707"></span></p>
  1046. <h2 style="padding-left: 30px">Wives and Mothers</h2>
  1047. <p style="padding-left: 30px">When she died in 1898<br />
  1048. her obituary made no mention of her name nor of her motherless baby daughter<br />
  1049. she was the &#8216;wife of Mr. John McManus who was the son of Mr. Bernard McManus and daughter of Mr. Patrick Seymour&#8217;<br />
  1050. I sent an email to her grandson&#8217;s wife informed her the family was cloned<br />
  1051. `Not a woman in sight&#8217;, I said<br />
  1052. daughter and wife</p>
  1053. <p style="padding-left: 30px">not a real person</p>
  1054. <p style="padding-left: 30px">Still in the nineteen-fifties<br />
  1055. we were wives and mothers<br />
  1056. we formed a committee<br />
  1057. to establish a kindergarten<br />
  1058. in a town which never had one before<br />
  1059. and many didn&#8217;t see the need<br />
  1060. we rejoiced when it opened<br />
  1061. and my children in turn attended<br />
  1062. I was committee secretary, duty mother when rostered<br />
  1063. still wife and mother and not much else</p>
  1064. <p style="padding-left: 30px">not a real person</p>
  1065. <p style="padding-left: 30px">By the nineteen-seventies society was changing<br />
  1066. adult education, equality for women<br />
  1067. my children independent now<br />
  1068. and grandkids would soon go to kindergarten<br />
  1069. I seized the opportunity to study, qualify and work<br />
  1070. and felt that I was Me at last</p>
  1071. <p style="padding-left: 30px">perhaps a real person</p>
  1072. <p style="padding-left: 30px">They held a reunion for the kindergarten&#8217;s founders<br />
  1073. I heard about it after it was over<br />
  1074. and a friend asked why I hadn&#8217;t gone<br />
  1075. &#8220;Why wasn&#8217;t I invited?&#8221; I asked the president<br />
  1076. rather peevishly<br />
  1077. &#8220;I didn&#8217;t think of you&#8221;, she answered</p>
  1078. <p style="padding-left: 30px">not always a person</p>
  1079. <p style="padding-left: 30px">I wonder where the years have gone<br />
  1080. some things are less important now<br />
  1081. I have knowledge enough to enjoy a good book<br />
  1082. eyes that still work though other things waver<br />
  1083. sunshine that warms and pictures in clouds<br />
  1084. time away from life&#8217;s pressures to take it all in<br />
  1085. people who care and are there when I need them<br />
  1086. for each day I am grateful</p>
  1087. <p style="padding-left: 30px">to still be a person.</p>
  1088. <p><img class="wp-image-32713 alignnone" style="font-size: 12px" src="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133623/42993670_403721003500617_3992617322236870656_n.jpg" alt="" width="375" height="500" srcset="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133623/42993670_403721003500617_3992617322236870656_n.jpg 480w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133623/42993670_403721003500617_3992617322236870656_n-300x400.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 375px) 100vw, 375px" /><img class="wp-image-32714 alignleft" src="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133630/43013739_531465880647259_661410244731076608_n.jpg" alt="" width="374" height="499" srcset="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133630/43013739_531465880647259_661410244731076608_n.jpg 480w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/02/09133630/43013739_531465880647259_661410244731076608_n-300x400.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 374px) 100vw, 374px" /></p>
  1089. ]]></content:encoded>
  1090. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32707</post-id> </item>
  1091. <item>
  1092. <title>What economic reform thinking might have looked like – if we’d bothered to do it</title>
  1093. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/06/what-economic-reform-thinking-might-have-looked-like-if-wed-bothered-to-do-it/</link>
  1094. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/06/what-economic-reform-thinking-might-have-looked-like-if-wed-bothered-to-do-it/#comments</comments>
  1095. <pubDate>Wed, 06 Feb 2019 11:45:25 +0000</pubDate>
  1096. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  1097. <category><![CDATA[Best From Elsewhere]]></category>
  1098. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  1099. <category><![CDATA[Philosophy]]></category>
  1100. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  1101. <category><![CDATA[Politics - international]]></category>
  1102. <category><![CDATA[Public and Private Goods]]></category>
  1103.  
  1104. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32696</guid>
  1105. <description><![CDATA[I have posted this talk previously, but can now post the transcript, worked up from a YouTube transcript with thanks to Shruti Sekar for editing it. You can download the slides to which I was speaking from this link. Nicholas: [Slide 2,3]  I&#8217;m &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/06/what-economic-reform-thinking-might-have-looked-like-if-wed-bothered-to-do-it/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1106. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='640' height='390' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/S_SWo3Cj8Yc?version=3&#038;rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></p>
  1107. <p>I have posted this talk <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2018/12/03/my-presentation-in-london/">previously</a>, but can now post the transcript, worked up from a YouTube transcript with thanks to Shruti Sekar for editing it. You can download the slides to which I was speaking <a href="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2018/12/07130748/Scandals-Final-%E2%80%93-London.pptx">from this link.</a><span id="more-32696"></span></p>
  1108. <p>Nicholas: [Slide 2,3]  I&#8217;m going to start with this quote from John Maynard Keynes which is a very striking quote, I think. And I guess the way I think about our situation, not just since the financial crisis but also, it turns out, over the whole generation of reform, is that, in a sense, we weren&#8217;t particularly serious. I don&#8217;t mean by that that we weren&#8217;t more revolutionary. It&#8217;s just that we reduce the thing to a formula very quickly and it ran out of steam very quickly. I&#8217;ll try to justify that claim as I go.</p>
  1109. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 4] Reform; the sort of reform Maynard Keynes foreshadows in the quote I’ve read was based on new intellectual understandings largely from the academy. That was Keynesian Macro and that involved very substantial reform. Post sixties reform was built on some simple ideas which are quite compelling. </span></p>
  1110. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 5] Stigler showed how regulation, which was often justified as protecting consumers, didn&#8217;t protect consumers but became a creature of the industry that it was regulating. Friedman&#8217;s critique of, if you like, the ‘vulgar Keynesian’ faith in a static Phillips curve. If anyone doesn&#8217;t know what that means, think of it as a predictable and linear relationship between unemployment and inflation, the idea that if you&#8217;ve got unemployment, you can always inflate your way out of it. There&#8217;s obviously something fishy about that. And if you read the literature of the time, the people who had any smarts kind of knew that too. But Friedman was the guy who pointed out what was wrong with it in his presidential address. </span></p>
  1111. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 6] The other thing that reform was based on was what I call ‘policy hacks’. Quite specific ideas. And as an example, Friedman makes a point of distinguishing between funding and delivery. That leads to ideas like vouchers, where the state withdraws from delivery but maintains funding, and things like income contingent loans in Australia copied around the world. Coase is another fertile mind who starts thinking about distribution, property rights, and so on. And from that, we get spectrum auctions, emissions, permits, and so on. </span></p>
  1112. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So good reform thinking offers insights that are specific, robust and actionable. And are they ideological? Well, all of the people I quoted to you are University of Chicago. An ideology got them to those ideas. They wanted the world to be more market-oriented, but the ideas themselves don&#8217;t need to be implemented in a pro- or an anti-market way. They are a repertoire of tips and tricks. And in the case of Stigler, if you say there’s regulatory capture, well, that&#8217;s good to know because if you&#8217;re there for the little guy, then you want to know about those kinds of things. </span></p>
  1113. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 7]So what went wrong? </span></p>
  1114. <ol>
  1115. <li style="font-weight: 400"><span style="font-weight: 400">I want to suggest firstly something we&#8217;re all familiar with. </span></li>
  1116. <li style="font-weight: 400"><span style="font-weight: 400">Reform ran the gamut of vested interests. An intellectual dumbing down and overreach. That&#8217;s the big one in a sense. </span></li>
  1117. <li style="font-weight: 400"><span style="font-weight: 400">But the one that sort of upsets me the most is that we came up with almost no ideas after the ones that I&#8217;ve presented you and the generation of ones that I presented you. Now, that&#8217;s an easy thing for me to say. It really only matters if I can give you the feel of what those alternative ideas might look like. And I&#8217;m certainly not going to be comprehensive, but I think… I&#8217;m hoping to impress to you that, hell yes, there were lots of other tips and tricks we could have moved on to and that they are particularly well-suited to the development of our economy. </span></li>
  1118. </ol>
  1119. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 8] So here&#8217;s a quick trip through vested interests. Here&#8217;s some examples. And maybe it&#8217;s better to look at the slides later, but here are some examples of ways in which the particular priorities are clearly ordered by vested interests. But here&#8217;s an important thing about using Australian sources, which is that Australia has an organization which is dedicated to the ten commandments of reform. It has an institutionalization of reform which is now called the Productivity Commission. And the thing is that the now Productivity Commission and its antecedents more or less went along with this ordering of priorities. At the same time as keeping the Smithian fires burning with hostility to vested interests, somehow took more note of certain kinds of vested interests than others. The record shows it far more concerned about vested interests down in the small end of town – workers on the wharfs and in factories – than the vested interests in the big end of town in finance, law and medicine. </span></p>
  1120. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 9] Dumbing down is the really big deal. Just as in politics we love debates between left and right so in intellectual discussion and particularly in economics we love paradigm wars. It’s so much more fun to have a debate about paradigms. It gets the emotions flowing. You can have an opinion without knowing much. Now, the first reform episode that I talked about – post-war reform – is the result of a paradigm change. And in macro in that context paradigm wars made sense. The question was how to think about running a macro economy, and we changed the model and that changed the way we worked. I don&#8217;t think that&#8217;s true of Smithian reform. Smithian reform picks up all kinds of stuff in the zeitgeist and makes good use of them until it stops making good use of them. [Slide 10] And there&#8217;s a real analogy, I think, with politics as culture war. As Martin knows, I&#8217;ve got a real thing about the way in which politics, as we can just watch it, polarize as people head for ideological debate as opposed to discussing the issues in front of them. So I think there&#8217;s a real analogy there. </span></p>
  1121. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 11] So the basic theory of this is that markets work miraculously, but it’s just so long as all those things hold, which just doesn&#8217;t tell you much, does it? [Slide 12] And so reform as deregulation, as becoming market-friendly, works when the background markets being acted on work tolerably well already. So where you can clear away the detritus of previous political deals and settlements and reveal a functioning market, it’s worth doing. So this regulation that we got rid of, airline regulation probably everywhere, certainly in Australia or in the United States, was never designed to improve the economic efficiency of the airline system. Likewise, tariffs in Australia, these were regulatory regimes that came out of political deal doing and providing they’re presiding over something which will function quite well as a market, you get rid of it and that&#8217;s what we did and that worked pretty well. </span></p>
  1122. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The other thing that worked well, are policy hacks. So we had income contingent loans. We sort of launched that on the world. The Child Support Agency is a similar kind of thing, using the tax office to administer maintenance payments between spouses who won&#8217;t otherwise agree. Spectrum auctions, congestion charging, and so on. Again, none of these things strike me as noticeably free market or left wing or right wing. They&#8217;re technocratic tinkering and they&#8217;re very effective at that if they&#8217;re done sensibly. </span></p>
  1123. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 13] And where did reform disappoint? Wherever it was difficult. In my country, it&#8217;s hard to think of a difficult sector that was reformed that we didn’t make an awful mess of. Now, it&#8217;s quite possible to argue that it was in a mess already. That&#8217;s an interesting argument, but I won&#8217;t dwell on that now. [Slide 14] So that&#8217;s just sort of a quick list of where market failure is pervasive. That&#8217;s a big list. And walking up to anything in there and saying “What we&#8217;re about is deregulation. We&#8217;re going to change some things on the basis that if it&#8217;s deregulatory, it&#8217;s good, and if it&#8217;s more regulatory, it&#8217;s bad,” that is not a recipe for policy success. </span></p>
  1124. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 15] Now, just a few years ago, in fact, I can tell you the day. I was doing a radio interview on a Lateral Economics. One of the things I normally dislike is to be asked in an interview “Summarize your report in a sentence.” But as I was doing this report, it struck me that I did want to summarize it in a sentence. We were talking about how to make Australia a supplier of funds management to the world. Don&#8217;t worry, nobody took any notice. And if they had, who knows whether it would have been very successful? But that was what I said. “Global funds management should be thought of as a joint product between funds management firms and their regulators rather than this idea that economists have in their head, which is that the firms do the production and the state just regulates them”. If you think about the complexities of international funds management, successful funds management centres have governments and private providers of funds management getting their heads together and trying to work out how to do it. Now, they&#8217;re also involved in helping people avoid tax, but you can’t become a successful exporter of international funds management if your regulators and your funds managers don’t understand themselves as involved in the same venture. </span></p>
  1125. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So now I want to give you a bit of theory. And by theory, I mean broad descriptive, reflective stuff. I don&#8217;t mean equations and so on. I want to talk to you about public and private goods. [Slide 17] So that&#8217;s a kind of a textbook definition of a public good. And both an economist’s idea of public good and the public&#8217;s informal definition of a public good is something a bit similar, I think, which is that public goods are those things which no one will supply if the government doesn&#8217;t. And that&#8217;s a quadrant that the Ostroms (Vincent and Elinor) cooked up and they said a public good is something which is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. </span></p>
  1126. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Anyone like me to explain those terms? Yes, some people would. This pointer is a single thing. If I have it, you don&#8217;t have it. So that&#8217;s a rivalrous good. The words I&#8217;m using are non-rivalrous. I can use them. They don&#8217;t get used up. You can use them and so on. And excludability is, within this room, we can&#8217;t exclude someone from hearing the lecture but we have a place where we can exclude people and that allows us to charge a price. In the absence of excludability, paying a price is voluntary, which you will agree, is a different kind of transaction. So a public good is this coincidence of those two things. Now, that&#8217;s a definition of public goods as a problem. It&#8217;s important that you realize that economists have thought about public goods as a problem and they are focusing on excludability. So there&#8217;s the Ostroms’ “Public goods present serious problems in human organisation.” </span></p>
  1127. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 1: I’m just wondering about the lighthouse because I know that it’s a textbook example.</span></p>
  1128. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. Please, let&#8217;s do that over drinks because that&#8217;s a long, long story. But it&#8217;s a fair point. So our definition of public goods is oriented in a particular way. If you like these terms, I don&#8217;t much because they lead you to just get misunderstood by people. But if you like, it&#8217;s a neoliberal interpretation of what a public good is. And then there&#8217;s the other side of it. It&#8217;s hardly a problem that something is non-rivalrous. If you&#8217;ve brought it into the world, well, that&#8217;s a big opportunity, isn’t it, to share? So that&#8217;s the other side of it which doesn&#8217;t get focused on. And I&#8217;ll have more to say about that soon. </span></p>
  1129. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 18]. As Adam Smith said, it is not from the benevolence of the brewer, the butcher, or the baker that we expect our dinner. These are private goods. They&#8217;re nice discreet things. And lighthouses are public goods. I want to suggest to you that that&#8217;s not a satisfactory way to think about public and private goods and that public and private goods are co-dependent and co-evolve. And to prove that to you or to demonstrate it to you, we&#8217;re going into the 18th century. [Slide 20] We&#8217;ve got on our 18th century gear, as you can see. A wig for the guy’s at least. The room we’re in may even be from the 18th century for all I know. And central banking has come into existence just a few years before the beginning of that century. And central banking is a public good that is a precondition for so much economic development. The Navy keeps floating around the earth and bumping into continents late at night. That&#8217;s not going to do. And we don&#8217;t need to build more ships. We need some knowledge which is a public good, which we know about the competition for Harrison&#8217;s clocks. There’s knowledge that&#8217;s come from Portugal from the 15th century that if you take lemons and various other things with you, the sailors won&#8217;t die on you. That&#8217;s some public goods that the 18th century fits us up with. And there&#8217;s the joint stock company. We&#8217;re in the presence of at least one Dutchman in the audience who I know, and they got on to this a little earlier. But anyway, the joint stock companies came into their own at around about this time. </span></p>
  1130. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 21] We are now in the 19th century, as you can tell, and that&#8217;s the primary school I went to in Harkaway in Victoria. It was built by the Lutherans and bought by the government in 1867. Public education. Public sanitation. This extraordinary idea that the British came up with of a merit-based public service, an idea they nicked from the Chinese. Central bank notes, 1844. These are all extremely important public goods that are part of the economic development of the place. So the way I like to put it is that there is an ecology of public and private goods. </span></p>
  1131. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 22] And here is Adam Smith and Hayek explaining that. So you know that stuff in Hayek about spontaneous order? Every example he cites is a case of something he could have called a public good but didn’t. I&#8217;m not accusing him of anything there. He’s thinking a different way. But the market that emerges out of self-seeking is a public good. Liquidity is a public good. Price discovery are these things that emerge or they co-evolve with self-seeking. </span></p>
  1132. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 23] And in fact, our patron saint Adam Smith, good guy generally, built his whole economics on what I call the notion of emergent public goods. So in the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Theory of Moral Sentiments</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400">, he talks about the evolution of human culture and he shows how this emerges spontaneously. And again, it doesn&#8217;t use the term public good. But culture becomes a public good, a regulating entity which enables us to sit in this room, nobody is stealing from anyone else, we all have rich expectations, and we&#8217;re all capable of constructing a public good which is this conversation. And then the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Wealth of Nations</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> is the same sort of story which I&#8217;ve given you. And there&#8217;s one other canonical public good which the government didn&#8217;t build and doesn&#8217;t appear in textbooks anywhere, but Adam Smith actually wrote a treatise on it and he explained its evolution in very similar terms. Anyone know what I&#8217;m talking about? Language. Isn’t it amazing? An emergent, a generative commons, as I heard it referred to on one occasion, which I think is a very fine expression, a very descriptive expression. </span></p>
  1133. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 24] Very quick. Actually, because there’s not time, I will move on from that one. </span></p>
  1134. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 25] And so here we have a rich ecology of public and private goods. Private goods are areas where we look after ourselves, and public goods are these things that can&#8217;t quite get their act together but we know we want them. Many of those things are not perfect. Public goods, they&#8217;ve got public good elements in them and that is a list of what is typically you get help from the taxman if you make donations. We sort of have quite a lot of this stuff fairly hardwired. </span></p>
  1135. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 26 first picture] That is a picture of human collective intention. I have it on good authority, just from what I&#8217;ve read, that you will not find a primate holding down a branch for another primate to pick fruit from a tree. So we are good at creating collective intentions. And in fact, I so much prefer that to this idea of self-interest and altruism which, as Adam Smith said, or benevolence, is a weak reed and you wouldn&#8217;t want to rely on it. Well, we could rely on this idea of collective intention to slaughter many men who we celebrated the slaughtering of or the end of slaughtering of a few days ago. I think it was during World War one where Bertrand Russell said he wasn&#8217;t going to study a discipline that was built on a single principle that people follow their own self-interest. He thought that was an extraordinary proposition. </span></p>
  1136. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 27] So for me, the world is a nested ecology of public and private goods. If you look at this picture, [Slide 26 second picture] everywhere you look, there are people acting on their own but they&#8217;re acting within a web of publicness. So there are two people playing chess and they&#8217;re competing with each other and yet the game they&#8217;re playing is a public good. It&#8217;s a public thing. A conversation is exactly the same thing. There is publicness and privateness shot through this picture at every scale that you look at, and that&#8217;s something I think is important to think about. And again, private goods, we see competition between private goods. And then public goods, these are the things which hold these social formations together. </span></p>
  1137. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 28] So I think reform should never have been seen as deregulation except where it was a harmless thing to do or acquire the summary aesthetic of market orientation. It should have understood itself as refurbishing the institutions of the mixed economy. </span></p>
  1138. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 29] So let me now give you an example of what I mean in the area of information. [Slide 30] We know about Hayek. Hayek tells us that it&#8217;s very important that the central planning is going to be a bit of a disaster because we need to use information about relative scarcity that is distributed throughout the economy. What the hell am I talking about, to the non-economists? Well, a farmer or a trader in grain knows the grain is not growing very well this year and the price of grain goes up and everybody economises on the use of grain and substitutes to other grain. That&#8217;s the price system of work and it&#8217;s incredibly powerful. On the other hand, what Arrow and Stiglitz and Akerlof, the people who come many decades after and point out that that&#8217;s not all there is to it, that asymmetric information is one of the main problems of markets. Remember, Hayek talks about prices. Prices are the only information that are well-reported in a market because they have to be agreed between buyer and seller, not anything else. So all this other stuff is up for grabs. </span></p>
  1139. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 31] So remember this? Well, none of you will remember it from your lives, but you might remember it from books. This is the 19th century marketing patent medicine. And one has to wonder how far we&#8217;ve got from that. We&#8217;re much more genteel these days, but let&#8217;s just go through some things quickly. [Slide 32] Most advertising is not informational but symbolic. I don&#8217;t want to make much of that other than to say that that was a substantial topic in economics 50 years ago, very boutique now. We build conflicts of interest into things of immense public good importance, like the auditing of accounts. In governments, there are statements of regulatory impact and environmental impact, and they are invariably done or influenced by people who want to influence the outcome. The term “push the envelope.” [Slide 33] There&#8217;s an Ngram Viewer. It took off around about 1990. Likewise, stretch the envelope. I&#8217;ll leave you to draw the conclusions. </span></p>
  1140. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 34] The importance of reputation. Here’s John Kay talking about the way in which reputation is the way that markets typically deal with asymmetric information. And that&#8217;s how we deal with it when we buy a computer, whatever sort of computer, and now we&#8217;re using it online in lots of ways. But regulation doesn&#8217;t do that. [Slide 35] Policy is stuck in early prototype. Imposing mandatory disclosure, which we know almost invariably doesn&#8217;t work. Regulation of professions sometimes a little more than a PR makeover. And that&#8217;s the case with financial advisors who get to call themselves government licensed financial advisors and then go and pursue conditions the way they always were. Most of these people don&#8217;t even have university degrees. And all of this regulation costs a lot of money, but it doesn&#8217;t tell us the most important thing we need to know, which is how can I find somebody who&#8217;s good at this? And it doesn&#8217;t do that for financial advisors. It doesn&#8217;t do it for surgeons. It doesn&#8217;t do it for lawyers. And there are lots of ways in which it could. </span></p>
  1141. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 36] Quick romp through restrictive practices. In law, they&#8217;re as rampant as ever. And I&#8217;m not talking about the sort of standard economic textbook which is “Let everyone compete. Let solicitors compete.” The barristers, a lot of those barriers are down in lots of places. And if they made things better, well, they haven&#8217;t because the real problem is that the system is, infested with people who are gold plating things to their own advantage. So, lawyers control procedure and you end up paying $30 million for a fairly straightforward investigation about whether Andrew Forrest, an Australian, misled investors. $30 million in legal fees to the government agency. </span></p>
  1142. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 37] And I&#8217;ll let you read that comment from Andre Geim who is a Nobel Prize winner. I think he&#8217;s British and he invented graphene. Because of the time, I will actually jump ahead a little and just say that he was told by a guy, “Don&#8217;t worry about patenting it because if you patent it, we will put a hundred patents out afterwards and you will spend the rest of your life defending our losses.” That&#8217;s why he didn&#8217;t patent it. Now, my point is this: Is this turning up on the list of economic reform targets? Have you seen it discussed by economists as things micro economic reform that we need? </span></p>
  1143. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 38] Very quickly, it really does get a lot worse. So competitive incentives are crowding out the public throughout our knowledge and research infrastructure. Here&#8217;s two incredible quotes. 11% of pre-clinical cancer studies could be replicated. And to quote John Ioannidis, who is an expert on this stuff, “Overall, not only are most research findings false. Most of the true findings are not useful.” How can a true finding not be useful? Well, you do a randomized control trial between the placebo and a new drug and you get a result and you don&#8217;t know whether the new drug is better than the old drug or how it&#8217;s better. That&#8217;s an example. This stuff is being pumped out by universities all the time. They are meeting their institutional imperative and the public interest which is there and meeting these institutions together as best we can. And of course, we can&#8217;t do it perfectly. That falls by the wayside. [Slide 39] So none of these issues are a focus of economic reform, but in Australia, we have a list produced by the Productivity Commission of what is economic reform and making sure that non-pharmacists can own pharmacies as part of the economic reform. But this isn&#8217;t. So that&#8217;s the sort of thing that I want to refer to. </span></p>
  1144. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 40] And again, where market failure is pervasive, I want to suggest what I said to you earlier that output should be thought of as joint product of competitive and collective (collaborative and regulatory) activity, an ecology of public and private goods, multi-layered, nested, and so on. The collective interest represented at different levels in different ways. For the same reason that markets work well when they do, what we need to try to do is devolve decisions to a level where the knowledge exists and the incentives to act well are strongest. And we’ve barely begun trying to think about that sort of stuff. Of course, this sort of political theory about words like subsidiarity and so on, but economists have barely articulated these kinds of things. </span></p>
  1145. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 41] You&#8217;ve heard of the expression free rider problem. How many people have heard of the expression free rider opportunity? It&#8217;s sort of a countercultural comment and yet it&#8217;s more important than the free rider problem. That&#8217;s not a statement that free rider problems are not important. [Slide 42] It&#8217;s just that, as Thomas Jefferson told us, the free rider opportunity is so much more important, as Robert Solow could have told us with his productivity studies in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. This is the opportunity of non-rivalrousness, which of course has gone through the roof in the 21st century. Who can tell me a list of new public goods of the 21st century? Anyone got anything? Any thoughts? Not you. You know this shtick. The internet is a new public good. Yeah. It&#8217;s a late ‘70s public good, but any others? </span></p>
  1146. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 43] We&#8217;re in the 21st century. You need a hat? That simply won&#8217;t do, so we&#8217;re just going to have to go with that. I made that slide before a certain presidential campaign. There&#8217;s a bunch of new public goods, not one built by the government. But we&#8217;re going to have to change our definition of what a public good is from a world in which we think of public goods as a problem to a world in which we want to at least keep in mind the possibility of public goods as an opportunity. So we&#8217;re going to call this non-excluded. The way in which Google made something a public good was not by being non-excludable, but by choosing not to exclude it. </span></p>
  1147. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 44] So here we are. We are Google and we are thinking of the amount of value we can create. And this is the amount of value that Google can create behind a paywall. And it won&#8217;t get that many customers, but it will at least capture a lot of the value. And the alternative is to do it as a public good, in which case, on the back of my envelope, it will create something of the order of a trillion dollars’ worth of value. And here&#8217;s the thing. The cost of doing it, it can get 60 billion… It&#8217;s monetising just 6% of the value it creates. It&#8217;s getting by on the smell of an oily rag [32:14] but their costs are half that, so they&#8217;re rich beyond their wildest dreams. So that&#8217;s how these public goods have come into existence. </span></p>
  1148. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 45] I&#8217;ll skip that too, but that&#8217;s an example of ecology of public and private goods on the platform. That&#8217;s a successful platform is something which gives you something and then turns it into a public good that is of interest to others. [Slide 46] So now we&#8217;ve got a new landscape and we&#8217;ve got those things in the textbook which is over there, and then we&#8217;ve got these emergent public goods, language being an example. Open-source software, the language instinct rendered into executive code, eternal extraordinary thing, executive, does stuff. Then we&#8217;ve got these platform public goods. But there&#8217;s a problem and the problem is that this thing is clicking a lot slower than we wish it was. The problem is that what happens when we get to a stage like, for instance, take roads, take the funding of roads, we could fund then… If you build a road, you can put billboards next to it and you make some money from billboards. The problem is you can&#8217;t make enough money from the billboards. So that is the equivalent on the net. </span></p>
  1149. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">And so the question is what global digital public goods exist in there that can&#8217;t be built by the market? There must be some. And I knew that I needed a kind of killer example of this to kind of capture people&#8217;s imagination rather than saying this is a nice theoretical proposition. We&#8217;re funny that way, human beings. [Slide 47] And so I came up with this sort of framework in about 2009, and then in 2012, I was looking at Ann Wojcicki who is the CEO of 23andMe, which is a consumer genomics company. She was married to Sergey Brin at the time. He&#8217;s the co-founder of Google. And things move fast in Silicon Valley. She no longer is. [Slide 48] And what 23andMe does is for then $99, now I think $149, I send you a little kit, you spit into the kit, send it back, they do a genomic analysis. It&#8217;s a partial genomic analysis and then they can tell you various things about ancestry if you&#8217;re interested in that or possible health issues that you might be interested in. </span></p>
  1150. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 49] So here&#8217;s my example. I&#8217;m looking at this and I’m thinking she&#8217;s facing exactly the same decision that her husband had, which is “Do I build this as a private or a public good?” As a public good, I&#8217;ll try and explain to you why it is so much more valuable, but you can&#8217;t get enough money to do it. So that&#8217;s the cost of it and that&#8217;s going to make a loss. So the obvious thing, she didn&#8217;t know this. She&#8217;s an American and Americans don&#8217;t know that you&#8217;re going to have public health systems right there and then. And so I immediately think of Medicare. I&#8217;ve translated this into the NHS. The funding comes from the NHS. They get access to your data. It&#8217;s all voluntary. If this is icky to you, you just say, “No, I don&#8217;t want to do it.” The doctors are encouraged to nudge people in. “Do you want to do this? If you don&#8217;t, that&#8217;s fine. If you do, tick here. Spit here. We&#8217;ll sort it out.” And then it gets connected up to the health system: diagnosis, pharmacovigilance, research, population-based screening. If that&#8217;s not worth $100 per unit to the state, to the NHS, I&#8217;d be very surprised. And if it&#8217;s not worth it to the NHS, it&#8217;s surely got to be worth it to the economy at large. </span></p>
  1151. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 50] So here we have public-private digital partnerships and that&#8217;s just an example. And you can do this. Any SaaS hub, any software as a service hub, you can think of similar kinds of things to do. [Slide 51] This is a start-up in Australia which does employee engagement. If government said, “We&#8217;ll fund this” or “We&#8217;ll have a tender so that this can be made available as a free thing,” you get a standard, you get data, you can connect firms up with their permission who have similar, or one firm might have solved an HR problem that another firm has, etc. You start to create all kinds of possibilities. [Slide 52] That&#8217;s software as a service on accounting. </span></p>
  1152. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">[Slide 53] And it doesn&#8217;t necessarily just have to be like this. An example I like is windows on workplaces. We debate the liberalisation in the workplace as if there wasn&#8217;t a problem knowing… It seems to me obvious that the fact that people don&#8217;t really know how good a workplace is before they get into it is a problem. Now, it might just be a problem we have to deal with, but it seems to me there are things we could do. We could, for instance, try and make sure that workers’ compensation premiums are published and prominently given to applicants for jobs as a proxy for safety. But it would also be nice to get employee engagement surveys out into the open so people can see from the outside which ones have got good employee engagement. Of course, you all know why it doesn&#8217;t happen, or you all think you know why it doesn’t happen because it might be embarrassing. Correct? But that doesn&#8217;t answer why the best firms don&#8217;t publish that. And I think the answer is because there&#8217;s no standard to report to. If PwC is doing a lot better than KPMG, KPMG can go and dig some stuff out of their survey which is done in a different way and present the data as if it’s as good. So standards are an emergent public good and we can help them emerge. Governments can use their convening power to help those things emerge. So, look, I will leave it at that. That&#8217;s another thing, but I&#8217;ll just leave it at that and hand over to Henry. [Slides 54,5 were skipped.]</span></p>
  1153. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Thank you very much, Nicholas. Now I&#8217;ll ask Martin to give a brief response. Martin Wolf is probably well-known to all of you. I love the way he describes himself as a journalist that focuses on economics. So he&#8217;s someone who manages to be authoritative over economics without having the hard work or the boredom of having to study economics for a long time. I think it&#8217;s a great achievement. And obviously, he&#8217;s written extensively, particularly the Financial Times, but a whole range of books, a lot about finance but also about globalisation. He knows about the 0.0001% and how they live and what they think about. But with that, I look forward to Martin&#8217;s comments. </span></p>
  1154. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: Thank you. Okay. So first of all, just to spare the my teachers, I did do a graduate degree in economics. So the people who taught me, some of whom Nicholas knows, would be very embarrassed if my professional credentials were denied. Anyway, I was a professional economist for quite a while before I rose into journalism. Now, I think we want to get to discussion and Nicholas, as always, has raised an enormous number of issues. I think his lecture would make a pretty good book of about 400 pages and I imagine that many of you must feel a little bit overwhelmed. If you haven&#8217;t, if you don&#8217;t, then you shouldn&#8217;t be here because you’re formidable geniuses. So he has done a whirlwind tour of his thinking. I got to know his work over the last few years. He&#8217;s not somebody you come across that easily, but once you do, you become addicted. He is, I think, extraordinary original and imaginative and thought-provoking, and there are no buts there. </span></p>
  1155. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Oh, I was waiting for the but. </span></p>
  1156. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: There are no buts there. </span></p>
  1157. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: However…</span></p>
  1158. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: However will come. So I do think not only that you should… There is a text which I&#8217;ve read. You should read it. You should look at his blog. I think it really is remarkably original. And one of the things he&#8217;s done in a very interesting way is to get into an area in which lots of other people are , in different ways. Somebody like [Noah] Harari, for example, in which is to try and think about what makes us human. And what he&#8217;s doing in part when he talks about public goods and private goods all mixed up together, he&#8217;s really talking about human beings as cultural animals and the way that shapes us. And of course, if you start looking at economics in that way, you end up thinking about it in a very, very different way. So it does actually go back in some rather important way to 18th-century thinking. It links up with some of the more interesting modern evolutionary ideas and also some of the more interesting cultural ideas. So I recommend this very, very highly. So that&#8217;s the first big point I wanted to make. </span></p>
  1159. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">But the second… I&#8217;m going to cover just two other areas and it&#8217;s completely different from what I carefully prepared. I knew that when I prepared my ideas, I would end up talking about something different. So I want to focus on, one, what is really, in all truth, this lecture covered far too much. It breaks all the rules of lectures in my view. And if I had been the editor, which I frequently am, I would have told him to focus on just one of the ideas. So one of the ideas in this, a very central idea, is what he calls hacks- which is the idea that if you understand a problem relatively well and look at it in a relatively non-ideological way, which is very difficult for you and me to do particularly nowadays, and you think about what you&#8217;re trying to solve, you can come up with some really quite clever ideas. And cumulatively actually we have generated quite a lot of very clever ideas. Some of them are very big clever ideas like legal systems which there have been some problems; and even bigger clever ideas like language because really nobody ever had that as an idea; but also lots and lots of concrete ideas to solve specific problems. </span></p>
  1160. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">And if you think about the last, this is very close to it I suspect. I don&#8217;t even remember when you cited him but it&#8217;s very close to Karl Popper’s idea of what he called piecemeal social engineering. Piecemeal social engineering in his counter to the Austrian school or his version of the Austrian school, you can think of this either way, is the way he thinks about it. And economists tend to rather like that way of thinking. Not all economists because there are lots of potentially ideological ones; rather like the idea of piecemeal social engineering. So to take one example that you mentioned, we have the question of how should we fund higher education and what role should students play in funding it or should it be free for them. But is that equitable given that they&#8217;re clearly going to be the more successful members? So there&#8217;s clearly a technical and political problem to solve in that sense. And he mentioned the Australian invention of income contingent loan scheme which we subsequently adopted and created lots of problems. We did it very badly.</span></p>
  1161. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The point I would make about this is I&#8217;m very sympathetic to this view of things but it obviously creates two very big classes of problems. And these are, if you like, the political philosophy of reform if it&#8217;s piecemeal. And I think it has to be because revolutionary reform is, to put it mildly, rather disappointing. So the problem with piecemeal reform is, of course in practice as we know, one of the great mistakes of economics to ignore this. Everything is connected to everything else. So it&#8217;s usually very, very difficult to think of a way of fixing X which doesn&#8217;t create problems even if it was just stopping for Y, Z, A, B, C, D, and all the rest of it. And so,  going at things as a series of piecemeal problems, though I think probably the only way we can do it, creates very large intellectual problems of its own. Even more so, it creates very large political problems. And they are core if you think of them within the context of a political democracy which is these hacks are quite complex and some of them are really very complex. You can talk about, for example, congestion charging as an idea but implementing it in a sensible way and thinking about all these externalities associated with it is really, really hard. </span></p>
  1162. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So in practice, piecemeal social engineering tends to me ruled by technocratic platonic guardians and this is profoundly anti-democratic. One of the reasons I think we&#8217;ve ended up in our intensely ideologically divided world, there are many other reasons for this, is people really don&#8217;t like that way of doing things anymore. Of course, it&#8217;s been made worse by the fact, which is pretty demonstrable while I&#8217;m coming to my last point, a major area, that it turns out that a lot of the technocrats were completely clueless. So if you have a combination of completely clueless technocrats and complexity and obscurantism, and he&#8217;s given plenty of examples of that, then what you&#8217;ve got is a recipe for complete collapse of confidence in the entire political system which is where we are. And so my challenge to Nicholas is how do we solve that? Finally, where do you get the license to do your piecemeal social engineering given where we are? It&#8217;s just something I’m thinking about. If you can solve that problem you&#8217;ve given me a chapter of my book. </span></p>
  1163. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The final point I was thinking about is some of the really important things he said about the mixture of the economy we have today. So it seems to me another way of thinking about what he was talking about is we have developed a situation in which we have private monopoly ownership of crucial public goods. And in fact, pretty well all these platforms fall into that category. And that is I think a social catastrophe as well as an economic one. But they are public goods and they have clear public monopoly aspects. And so how do we fix that? Second problem is that a lot of these public goods have, and he didn&#8217;t use this phrase I think, carried with them a stupendous quantity of simply spectacular public bads. Like the perfect spread, as the way I think it goes, the famous remark about the internet, and it builds on Jefferson and so forth, is that information wants to be free. That information doesn&#8217;t necessarily want to be true. There&#8217;s no reason why it should be at all. False information spreads at least as well, if not, there&#8217;s quite a lot of evidence, better than true information. And indeed, the point he made on science is that science, he says, has become a system for disseminating public bads. </span></p>
  1164. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: So the thing you&#8217;re reaching for, Martin, is that information wants to be truthy. </span></p>
  1165. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: Information wants to be truthy? </span></p>
  1166. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: That’s the problem.</span></p>
  1167. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: Yeah. Okay. Yes. Okay. So the point is we&#8217;ve got the private dissemination of public bads, the private ownership of public goods, and we have the private creation and destruction of some key old public goods, which he does actually mention, at which the most important probably is money. And so, what I would like you to do is to think a little bit more about how the hell we manage systems which have these characteristics because the mix-up that we are now living with, in the areas which he focused on in his article over the introduction of money,  that you mostly focus on the information economy, aspects of the information economy, seems to me to be creating simply stupendous and, as things are at the moment, unmanageable public bad problems of various kinds. That will be all I would say and I will leave the other lecture. </span></p>
  1168. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Okay. Thanks very much, Martin. Right. Well, that&#8217;s a huge breadth of area to go at and we&#8217;ve got about 35 minutes. So let&#8217;s see what anyone wants to come back and ask about. </span></p>
  1169. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 2: Yeah. Just on your last point, Martin. Just to hear your thoughts. Could you counter some of these public bads with new public goods? So for example, if this information had a new system in which it’s been verified by so and so [52:11]. </span></p>
  1170. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: So can I just comment on that one before you get to it? So here&#8217;s one area which I&#8217;ve been thinking about. But it&#8217;s conservative. I tend to be more conservative in this sense. So looking at what has happened in America, I&#8217;ve come to the view that the BBC is even more important than I thought it was. So if you&#8217;ve inherited an institution, not perfect, clearly not, but still it exists to do this, it&#8217;s rather important. And secondly, we have retained at least in relationship to television, though this is anonymous and not in relationship to newspapers, essentially I can’t remember the exact terms we used but the balanced and fair requirements which the Americans got rid of in the early ‘80s. So as things are at the moment, Fox TV or equivalents, Fox is obviously greater, couldn&#8217;t be created here. So that&#8217;s a pretty heavy-handed form of regulation and BBC is obviously quite an unpopular tax. But it seems to me that though we’ve got into terrible message here, we have avoided some of the more extreme dimensions because of these things which are essentially legacies of the past to start with. </span></p>
  1171. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: I completely agree with Martin that these are the many of the great issues of our time. The one thing that I&#8217;d want to do some fancy footwork on however is the idea that what I presented there was somehow whitewashing or not owning up to that. I mean, I wasn&#8217;t talking about that. As he observed and you may well have observed, I was talking about far too many things as it was. So I&#8217;m encountering a world and trying to say this would be a worthwhile thing to do. In fact, I think in some of these cases, and it&#8217;s certainly not comprehensive, but I think in some of these cases I can actually follow the logic that I introduced there to show how it could really do some quite powerful good. </span></p>
  1172. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So take 23andMe. 23andMe gets your data. Okay? Now, it will sell your data. It will behave relatively well with it if it wants to hang around, one presumes. But that&#8217;s a very different story. And now the way I would envisage this is that the NHS observes 23andMe doing this and says, “Well, actually what we need to do here is we need to think about the sort of principles of governance according to which we would like to see it in the market for genomic data.” And then it will say, “Well, here&#8217;s our offer. We&#8217;re prepared to pay as much as $150 for a partial genomic sequence if they’re any use and $500 for a full genomic sequence.” It might take co-payments, whatever. And then if you take on board that funding, you sign on to a government structure in which this is open, the data is anonymised and used for research, and so on and so forth. None of this is going to happen with 23andMe on its own. </span></p>
  1173. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So it seems to me, and I was trying to think of a nice term for that and I&#8217;ve just cooked it up in front of myself, tell me what you think, public envelopment. It sounds a little sinister, I suppose. But the point is that here we have these public goods burgeoning and a very dominant political class and economic class and they&#8217;re not thinking about this and they&#8217;re not going, “Oh, crikey, there&#8217;s an issue of public good obviously here. Let&#8217;s try to think about this.” Now, I don&#8217;t mean by that that they should take control of it, but they should own up to it as an issue and start talking about it. The BBC actually did this in a fairly ham-fisted way, but a way that should be recognized, because in around about 2005, ’06, ’07, the BBC refused to use Microsoft video stuff, all of which was freely available for them to use, because they made in principle statement that they would use open source software or their own software and they weren&#8217;t doing a favour to some private multinational. Again, a crude and not necessarily particularly helpful thing but the right instinct which is to say, “Put something in our intro.” And most economists didn&#8217;t even see it in their intro. So it&#8217;s in the intro. Don&#8217;t imagine that you&#8217;re going to be the great social engineering, you&#8217;re going to sort all this stuff out. But it&#8217;s in the intro, for Christ&#8217;s sake. And economists start behaving as if it is in their intro. </span></p>
  1174. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">A couple of other points would be the standard competition policy. And we&#8217;ve been remarkably slow, not really doing much about that. And the other thing to think about with regard to the great digital oligarchs of our age is that some of you will be familiar with the marginal cost controversies of the ‘20s and ‘30s, and that was all about what price should we pay for a London Underground ticket? And the textbook answer is the marginal cost not the full cost. Now it turns out on utilities that that&#8217;s hard. That&#8217;s analytically hard. It’s politically difficult. Guess what? It&#8217;s not hard in the digital world most of the time because the marginal cost is zero. And that&#8217;s exciting because it gives us some very clean kinds of potential policy hacks. </span></p>
  1175. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So I would for instance say that Microsoft, which has something like 90% of the paid, it would be more than 90% of the paid, word processing software in the Office Suite. I would impose upon Microsoft an access regime. And the access regime would say this: Anyone can copy the look and feel of Microsoft because that&#8217;s in our wetware and there&#8217;s x network externalities to that. They can&#8217;t copy your code but you have to publish full documentation of the format so anyone can interact with it. And so I think it&#8217;s quite likely that we could unpick their monopoly power in a much neater way than monopoly power raises in the world of high fixed cost and non-trivial marginal costs. So those are sort of scattered thoughts, some thoughts that I think are helpful but they by no means solve the problem. </span></p>
  1176. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: I think our faith in politicians has reached new lows. </span></p>
  1177. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. A whole new subject. </span></p>
  1178. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: Yes. In Australia, in the U.S., in the UK.</span></p>
  1179. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Happy to give you another talk about that sometime. Go on. </span></p>
  1180. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: I was thinking about examples of organizations that I think do a great job. You mentioned BBC. I think if I choose, even TFL is doing a great job too. </span></p>
  1181. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: I don’t know what that is.</span></p>
  1182. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: Transport for London.</span></p>
  1183. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Okay.</span></p>
  1184. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: So it&#8217;s a unified, I think mixed economy, organization that runs pretty much every transport type in London. I was wondering, given all of the inhibitors to adoption of making public good products or services work, have either of you seen around the world anywhere an example of a new public service that has been brought to market successfully? So you mentioned 23andMe which has huge potential. And I can imagine what’s coming up in the next twenty years. </span></p>
  1185. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Well, yeah, if you can copy them, sure. </span></p>
  1186. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 3: Has anybody in the room seen an example of a new public Google service that is being successfully brought to the public that was actually [01:00:56] all the myriad best interests, regulatory reasons, etc. 23andMe is potentially very exciting. I agree. </span></p>
  1187. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Well, I&#8217;m not that excited about 23andMe. I&#8217;m excited about genomic… Yeah. Yeah. Well, of course the mind naturally goes to Singapore because that&#8217;s the sort of thing that Singapore tries to do from time to time. I can think of some things they&#8217;ve tried to do but not anything very grand in terms of some grand new public good. The other thing I&#8217;d say is that I&#8217;m aware of two things in Australian policy which I call the uncovering of the commons and the development of an uncovered commons. And what I mean by that is that there are many things from which many people will benefit. But because so many people will benefit to a small amount, nobody has an incentive to take a large stake- a stake that will really keep people taking over. But if you look at two things, and you will have examples,I&#8217;m sure there are examples around the world, two things that the Australian Government had done in the last 30 odd years. There is a program called land care which is farmers looking after land with a little bit of help from the government, a little bit of money, a little bit of seeding, of voluntary activity, and so on. And so that&#8217;s what I call an uncovered commons. A little bit of help enables a whole group of people to act in small ways to advantage the whole. </span></p>
  1188. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">And an equivalent example is the Australian aid strategy which involved connecting up community groups, some expenditure on health and awareness. And we were sort of famously one of the least homophobic places in the world, which is kind of odd because our national cycle is a bit native. And we just handled it with great maturity and some real insight and intelligence. And that’s a bit of a case study as a good thing. I&#8217;m not that familiar with it. But there’s a couple of examples. Anyway, don&#8217;t forget the human side of things. This is something Smith understood that we have all this potential. And he’s a virtue ethicist really. I mean, we&#8217;re all trying to grow in virtue together. And the more virtuous other people are, the more we are and the more we can do, the more of these uncovered commons can be constructive. </span></p>
  1189. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: I just want to add to that. I mean, what we&#8217;re talking about here I think is institutional design and the institutional world. </span></p>
  1190. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Just be careful. Institutional design or institutional evolution? </span></p>
  1191. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Yeah. Both. And because.. [01:03:58] </span></p>
  1192. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: It’s incredible. Exactly. That’s right.</span></p>
  1193. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: And surely one of the things is there&#8217;s been a renewal, sort of, when we think back to the co-op movement. But now we&#8217;ve got a renewal of the social enterprises. We’ve got fair shares, we&#8217;ve got impact investment, we&#8217;ve got a growth in enterprises that have a sort of public-private dimension. Isn&#8217;t that a new and interesting thing?</span></p>
  1194. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. It is a new and interesting thing. It&#8217;s very dangerously close to being massively overhyped, but it&#8217;s an exciting thing. But I think it needs something more and the state may…  David Cameron tried to do this with big society capital. Nice idea. That&#8217;s going to be a long time working out how the state fits into this. But if we want that stuff to do big things rather than lots of nice little things, we&#8217;re not there yet. We don&#8217;t know quite how to do that but it&#8217;s an exciting thing. </span></p>
  1195. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: I’ll just comment on this because I think you’ve raised a fascinating question and it sort of links with what Nicholas was saying which is why we are so unimaginative in a sense. So we have three huge legacies from the past. They go back to the 19th century I think, which we’ve never solved. Land, which you’ve introduced, right? Money and the corporation, the limited liability corporation. And they are hugely problematic. And as far as I can see, nobody has fixed it. You could say in some sense that certainly communism wanted to, but it clearly didn’t. And I think it&#8217;s quite astonishing how the people are beginning to think about the corporation, but they&#8217;re all three incredibly enormous. We really have to revisit that. Then we had the creation, which I think is absolutely central, of crucial natural infrastructure monopolies, which you mentioned. And basically, they all ended up as either publicly owned or private and regulated. And by and large, people have found both alternatives rather unsatisfactory, but some of them haven’t worked too bad. And I think many of us would feel we can still do quite a bit more work on this, perhaps nationalise one or two of them. </span></p>
  1196. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">But anyway, we understand the problem that this is a very special problem of knowledge and information which fortunately was a monopoly in the ‘20s, so we created the BBC. We wouldn&#8217;t do it now. But I think nowadays that&#8217;s the biggest new one because of the explosion of the whole knowledge industry which is such a complete nightmare and the one that we should be thinking about and really are thinking about as far as I can see at all. And there are so many dimensions. Nicholas was talking about science, the universities, and of course, the great platform [01:07:38] the internet and all the rest of it. And I don&#8217;t think there&#8217;s any really interested, I mean, new thinking here. So I have a colleague who sort of calls from breaking out of a stroke doing something about Google. I haven&#8217;t devoted a lot of thought about what should be done about Google. I haven’t read anybody who has produced something that says, “That&#8217;s what we have to do about Google.” I don&#8217;t know. But it is remarkable that these entities have emerged to such a transformative effect without anybody really thinking about their governments. </span></p>
  1197. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So these are the categories I&#8217;ve put things into. They’re all problems we never solved. The infrastructure problem that we sort of know how to solve, even if we don&#8217;t do it perfectly, and the new monopoly problems with which so much rental value is associated which seems to me we&#8217;re just not thinking about it at all. But it sounds like Nicholas sort of. And so my answer to you is no, we stopped thinking about this quite a long time ago. It’s rather depressing. </span></p>
  1198. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Can I just comment on [01:08:48].</span></p>
  1199. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: We’ve got lots of hands out there.</span></p>
  1200. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Oh, sorry. Okay. </span></p>
  1201. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: Yes. I’d like to make a  remark. So on the last one on what is a free market, I don’t agree that the limited liability corporations, because it encourages…[01:09:05]</span></p>
  1202. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: I didn’t say it was a bad thing. I said it’s a very problematic thing. </span></p>
  1203. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: But to get to what I think is the core of Nick’s issues is that you sort of seem to me as a group of pragmatically minded economists who are sort of non-ideological and who in that sense would look out for opportunities or different kinds of theories as to how to tackle all kinds of problems in a fairly pragmatic way. But I think that sort of misunderstands a little bit how we as a country has learned. Because, I think we learned the most from lots and lots of experiments from other countries where they tried lots and lots of things for all kinds of very ideological or other reasons.  But we’ll copy it anyway if it works. So the Chinese are trying an alternative to Google, basically out of government control issues, and while that&#8217;s very successful we might copy it. They too are thinking of biogenetic hacks, so sort of having access to the whole population. If they get to, we’ll copy it. Other countries are looking to the house as a means of reducing the number of x politicians. </span></p>
  1204. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Sounds like a means of increasing the number of x politicians. </span></p>
  1205. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: No, no, no, because you keep them in the system and you stop it from becoming obvious. </span></p>
  1206. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. Okay.</span></p>
  1207. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: And so we look to each other as countries for all kinds of experiments without even knowing what theory they have. </span></p>
  1208. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Sure. </span></p>
  1209. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: And so it&#8217;s not really about understanding the problem. It’s more recognizing the solution when you see it. </span></p>
  1210. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. </span></p>
  1211. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: Which is a totally different kind of knowledge today. All you need is a group of well-interested people. They don&#8217;t even need to be well-informed. They don’t even need to be well-theoried. </span></p>
  1212. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Sure. I just think I’m trying to use my discipline in a constructive way. But yeah, that’s absolutely true. Stuff happens and you try to learn from it. </span></p>
  1213. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 4: And it also happens. I mean, there’s quite a bit of copying, thinking about, putting up more internet [01:11:15].</span></p>
  1214. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah, absolutely. </span></p>
  1215. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Adam, you have…?</span></p>
  1216. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Adam: Yeah. I just want to say thanks for the talk. It was really fascinating. Probably the best talk, I reckon. It’s a fantastic talk. </span></p>
  1217. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Henry will be arriving for the second best talk. Henry will have the second best talk now because it’s now been surpassed. Sorry. Go on.</span></p>
  1218. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Adam: I think the reason the talk was interesting was there were fresh ideas there, it seems to me. You’re looking at areas of economics that are underexplored. I thought they’re very interesting areas that you’re talking about. So I slightly disagree with Martin&#8217;s characterisation of it as a pragmatic kind of hack even though that is the way that you sort of presented it.  Because to me, there&#8217;s an underlying theory that&#8217;s trying to get out there which is to break down some of these ideological barriers about what we&#8217;re studying because, by implication, if you do that you&#8217;re going to generalise your theory of, say, public goods, right? You’re going to have a more general theory of public goods. One can account things like the internet much more easily than these textbook examples of lighthouses and things like this, right? Because the world has moved on. So my thing about where I think it should go then is that you should look at biology  and risk in biology because you&#8217;ve got 3.6 billion years of risk management on this planet. And it&#8217;s great that you have a history of the 20</span><span style="font-weight: 400">th</span><span style="font-weight: 400"> century and the 19</span><span style="font-weight: 400">th</span><span style="font-weight: 400"> century and the 18</span><span style="font-weight: 400">th</span><span style="font-weight: 400"> century, but that’s 300 years of one species. And there’s so much over that I’d love to discuss with you. So many ideas. Information is what nature is all about, evolution is all about, and the breakthroughs that’s going on, signalling and… </span></p>
  1219. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Digital information.</span></p>
  1220. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Adam: Yeah. Yeah. </span></p>
  1221. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: So is there a theory? </span></p>
  1222. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: No. I mean, I look around. The way I think about this is is best described by Jerry Seinfeld. And he says in a routine, “Girls,” and he&#8217;s talking about men. He says, “Do you want to know what we&#8217;re thinking?” And they say, “Yes”. He says, “We&#8217;re not thinking anything. We&#8217;re just walking around, looking around.” And so I think these grand theories are actually trouble. There are people who come along and they do spend a lifetime working on something and they give us something that can be quite valuable. But I look around and look for things that fairly quickly I can put together with this, with that, and this goes with that, and then maybe we should try this and you can try it out. And biology, of course, is full of these things that you can take that from. Anyway, it sort of leads to my whole idea about we&#8217;ve got this idea that we&#8217;re in the image of science and science is about understanding the world in some kind of holistic way and then we make predictions. Well, that never worked out in the social sciences. But then we have enough knowledge to then say, “Well,” to then sort of somehow intuit, “Well, if we did this, then that would happen.” </span></p>
  1223. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Now, we actually never have knowledge of that that&#8217;s good enough to do that but somehow we work out what to do. And that&#8217;s because most of the time the most useful thinking is normative thinking. What should we be doing? Now, of course you can&#8217;t do normative thinking without any idea of the substance that you&#8217;re interacting with but it&#8217;s the normative thinking for me that is the prime mover. It&#8217;s where you start and it&#8217;s where you come back to and then you learn as much as you need to about this system. And we have it all around the other way. Why? Because it helps build disciplines. It helps so people who are the custodians of the discipline can keep producing this stuff. But that&#8217;s a big theory all in itself and I&#8217;ve just contradicted myself. </span></p>
  1224. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 5: I think I agree with the last speaker. I really enjoyed your talk. The one thing that surprised me most was that you were so critical of the idea of talking about paradigms. Seems to me that there is a genuine paradigm shift underway in economics. There&#8217;s a real difference between thinking that the economy works like an equilibrium-based, deterministic system and thinking that it works like a biological, evolutionary, context-adaptive system. And that&#8217;s not just philosophical. It is a mathematical difference. It&#8217;s a modelling difference. It’s a theoretical difference. </span></p>
  1225. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: And it would have made no difference to any of the things I said. </span></p>
  1226. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 5: Well, that’s what I was going to turn into. </span></p>
  1227. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: No, it is true. It is true. </span></p>
  1228. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 5: I was going to ask you what you really thought. </span></p>
  1229. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Well, take the example of a public-private digital partnership. Okay? It enables us to do something that is not otherwise doable. Take the example of limited liability companies. You don&#8217;t need to know whether you&#8217;re in a biological world or a neoclassical world because we all know that the neoclassical world isn&#8217;t this beautiful Newtonian thing. We&#8217;ve got enough common sense to know that unpredictable things happen and that&#8217;s why we have limited liability companies. So I don&#8217;t want to say “People, you mustn&#8217;t talk about this stuff.” I mean, it&#8217;s interesting stuff. It&#8217;s just too interesting in terms of the amount that it yields. </span></p>
  1230. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So I got into a big debate with Paul Krugman about whether it was so much worth his time building imperfect competition into trade when people like John Hicks had said before the event, “It&#8217;s not worth it. It&#8217;ll take you years and you’ll end up with answers which are basically- it depends because it&#8217;s all so complicated.” Okay? So there. That&#8217;s an explanation of what I&#8217;m doing. It isn&#8217;t saying you mustn&#8217;t talk about this stuff, but I do think that it sounds too serious. It&#8217;s too entertaining. People love having these fights. And there&#8217;s so much that we can achieve by just trying to use whatever paradigm we have constructively, thoughtfully, conservatively, carefully because it&#8217;ll get you a long way. And then sometimes you will really have to say, “Well, we don&#8217;t know what kind of world we&#8217;re in now and maybe we have to go and try and do some of that stuff.” What we&#8217;ve discovered with agent-based modelling and so on is that it&#8217;s really, really complicated and it&#8217;s really hard to make predictions. Hello. That&#8217;s imperfect competition. Okay? So just proceed with the possibility in mind that what you&#8217;re going to achieve is much less grand than it feels like having all the debates. </span></p>
  1231. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Nicholas, can I just follow up on that? </span></p>
  1232. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah.</span></p>
  1233. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Surely in your presentation you&#8217;ve shown how a particular paradigm of thinking about public and private has led to lots of problems. And your differential way of putting it takes you into a different place where maybe you even find some solutions. So isn&#8217;t that a paradigm? </span></p>
  1234. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: If you want. That&#8217;s a paradigm. It&#8217;s a little bit of a shift of focus. </span></p>
  1235. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Yeah. Isn’t that what paradigms are is a shift of focus? </span></p>
  1236. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: All right. Okay. What’s that?</span></p>
  1237. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 6: What you said was the single one sentence conclusion of your report, that follows very naturally from thinking about it as an evolutionary system. So it&#8217;s very difficult to put forward that conclusion that you did; that the output was co-produced by the financial sector and the regulators. </span></p>
  1238. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. </span></p>
  1239. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 6: If you&#8217;re seeing it as an evolutionary system, that&#8217;s more intuitive. That’s more obvious. </span></p>
  1240. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Yeah. </span></p>
  1241. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Man 6: So suggesting that the change in the theoretical paradigm would really support the arguments that you’re making. </span></p>
  1242. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Martin, do you want to take it? Where do you come with this one? </span></p>
  1243. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: I&#8217;m very close to Nicholas on this. So the way I think about this now is you have to understand the sort of question you&#8217;re trying to answer in this particular case. So if I were asked, “How do you think about the economic system as a whole over time?” then clearly the evolutionary paradigm is the useful way of thinking about that. And for certain purposes, that&#8217;s ideal and gets to a lot of questions. There are certain other questions that I have been interested in for which much simpler models like balance of payments theory, for example, very precisely, and the link between balance of payments theory and the financial crisis which I wrote about in my last book: Where I think that you have fairly standard Mundell-Fleming type balance of payments models actually throw a lot of light on what is going on. So the way I think about this, which I think is what those physicists who still use Newtonian mechanics for certain problems do in working out how to send and I&#8217;m not an expert on this, spaceships to the moon. I don&#8217;t know how much, I mean, relativity they need. I think it&#8217;s pretty Newtonian given the speed. </span></p>
  1244. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">So you need to be, particularly in social science, to be a heroic simplifier but you mustn’t simplify more than you can get away with. And how do you know the answer to that? One, you never do. And two, probably thinking about things for half a century else. So I feel when I think about problems, great science problems and how to approach them as an economist, I think now everything I thought with the first 30 years of my life as a freshman economist was worthless because I didn&#8217;t understand any of that. So I think I&#8217;m just rephrasing what Nicholas said in a slightly different way. So for certain purposes, very important purposes, I’m completely with you and for other purposes, fairly good old-fashioned theory can get you there. And the trick is knowing which one is which and often you&#8217;ll be wrong. </span></p>
  1245. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Marshall is good, I think. Marshall thinks of the economy as a biological organism and he&#8217;s trying to sort of find analytic hacks through the undergrowth that give him good perspectives on things. </span></p>
  1246. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: I think that&#8217;s our take on pluralism. Tim?</span></p>
  1247. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Tim: Yeah. Thanks. That was a very good talk but the big thing that was missing was the natural environment as an activity [01:22:43] and of course, the standard economic…</span></p>
  1248. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: [01:22:45] Australia? Silly comment. Sorry. Go on. </span></p>
  1249. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Tim: The standard economic description is emissions tradings, property rights. But what we found is that that&#8217;s very difficult to do in a way that is effective and equitable. </span></p>
  1250. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: Well, politically I don&#8217;t know how inequitable it is but we found that we&#8217;re not up to it. We&#8217;re not up to snuff. </span></p>
  1251. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Tim: Yeah. Right. I guess my question was how would that fit into your scheme? It seems that it should fit well with your scheme of this combination of the public and private. We’re looking 55 years to actually get on with this.</span></p>
  1252. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: No. I can&#8217;t offer much. I&#8217;m terrified it might already be too late. I mean, this is a tragedy. I remember watching somebody talking to the UN or something and she burst into tears. That&#8217;s the appropriate thing. This is madness. It&#8217;s going to cost the world 1% to 3% of GDP. That&#8217;s getting as rich as you were going to get but three months, no, nine months later. That&#8217;s what we’re talking about. Over the next 50 years. </span></p>
  1253. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Tim: It&#8217;s nothing to… </span></p>
  1254. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Nicholas: And there are apparently underpasses in Alaska that stink like rubbish tips and that&#8217;s the permafrost melting, you know? What the hell are we doing? Okay? But there&#8217;s nothing much I can do. I can&#8217;t conjure up a rational world. I&#8217;ll make a somewhat critical comment about mainstream economics here which you might have heard once before, which is that economists went off and they turned it into a nice little set piece about what the right discount rate should be.  Now the point is that ask yourself what was the right discount rate for D-Day. The sunlit uplands if we win and darkness if we lose. So the idea of a discount rate is actually in its own terms a simple equation for discounting. It&#8217;s got three terms in it and if you are going to be in a poorer world then the discount rate goes positive. Okay? So don&#8217;t picnic. Don&#8217;t sort of have a big smorgasbord about this little set piece out of the textbook and just show, and now I’m being ruder than I should be about people who are cleverer than me but show that you didn&#8217;t really even understand the textbook. That you didn&#8217;t take the discipline and use it on its merits. </span></p>
  1255. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Another very simple way to think about my message is that we get taught that economics is sort of like a rectangle box and this much is theory and that much is applying it. And I put it around the other way. There’s theory up here and there&#8217;s always resources. And I hope I&#8217;ve shown you that all the ways in which various simple ideas can be just used in slightly different ways to give you an insight into a situation. But you have to be a craftsman at that. You have to be imaginative in the way you try these things out. But that&#8217;s not going to save the planet, I&#8217;m afraid. We just have to decide whether we want it or not. We want them for our kids. We&#8217;re going to be, I&#8217;m going to be okay, by which I mean dead. </span></p>
  1256. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: Right. I think we may have one last question. </span></p>
  1257. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Martin: It’s one sentence because it&#8217;s something I&#8217;ve thought about quite a bit. Again, this is the extreme example of this, which is that it is astonishingly difficult to persuade us, and I include myself in this, to pay for something that one is used to having free. It feels like our natural right if it&#8217;s being free. Just getting people to pay for parking in front of their houses or driving in London or, of course, using up the entire atmosphere for our purposes, it just seems wrong. And that seems to be a very profound human conservative emotion. </span></p>
  1258. <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Henry: And maybe that’s why a carbon tax would never work but maybe other things would. Anyway, I&#8217;d like to now thank Nicholas and Martin enormously for a fascinating evening. And thank you.</span></p>
  1259. ]]></content:encoded>
  1260. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/06/what-economic-reform-thinking-might-have-looked-like-if-wed-bothered-to-do-it/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  1261. <slash:comments>1</slash:comments>
  1262. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32696</post-id> </item>
  1263. <item>
  1264. <title>How Social Science could be taught. A vision for the future.</title>
  1265. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/05/how-social-science-could-be-taught-a-vision-for-the-future/</link>
  1266. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/05/how-social-science-could-be-taught-a-vision-for-the-future/#comments</comments>
  1267. <pubDate>Tue, 05 Feb 2019 11:24:08 +0000</pubDate>
  1268. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Paul Frijters]]></dc:creator>
  1269. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  1270. <category><![CDATA[Education]]></category>
  1271. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  1272. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  1273. <category><![CDATA[Religion]]></category>
  1274. <category><![CDATA[Science]]></category>
  1275. <category><![CDATA[Social]]></category>
  1276. <category><![CDATA[Society]]></category>
  1277.  
  1278. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32690</guid>
  1279. <description><![CDATA[[note to self] Economics, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, and the other social sciences are currently taught in an unorganised manner. The undergraduate degree in any of these disciplines consists of about 20 separate courses that each differ markedly from the &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/05/how-social-science-could-be-taught-a-vision-for-the-future/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1280. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>[note to self]</p>
  1281. <p>Economics, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, and the other social sciences are currently taught in an unorganised manner. The undergraduate degree in any of these disciplines consists of about 20 separate courses that each differ markedly from the other 19 and that are unrecogniseable of those of the other disciplines. The language used in each course is different, the perspective on the same events differs, and there are deep contradictions in any course with what is said in the other courses.</p>
  1282. <p>The ways things are taught are usually also very old-fashioned and dull, with little use made of the possibilities of virtual reality and field trips. Pontificating teachers dominate the courses, with little of the knowledge truly reaching the students.</p>
  1283. <p>It can be done much better. I think it is possible to teach students the actual content of all the regular social science undergrad courses in one curriculum in a manner that they understand the material and see the interconnections. It can certainly be done for the relatively bright students, say the top 30% of the usual students found in the West.</p>
  1284. <p>The biggest change needed is to teach the material in terms of basic patterns, with more complex arguments taught later as combinations of basic patterns. Another change needed is to enforce a single language on the entire curriculum. Finally, what is needed is far more use of virtual reality-teaching and field trips so that students experience the phenomena they are meant to understand, unlocking their visual acuity and emotional skills as learning tools. Students should learn with their whole being, not merely with their abstractive capacities.</p>
  1285. <p>What do I mean by basic patterns and how would one mobilise more of the mental faculties of students? Let me give three examples from different disciplines to illustrate the immense similarities between them and how it can be presented.</p>
  1286. <p>A basic sociological pattern (eg Durkheim) is that of comparative advantage: a group of individuals can produce more if they each specialise in what they are relatively best at. One does not need to introduce exchange or prices to make that point, because those are other patterns. The basic pattern of comparative advantage is that there exist different productivities across entities.</p>
  1287. <p>This pattern should be taught in a layered manner, from exceptionally simple to incredibly complex. In the simplest form, one would have two people with comparative advantages. Students can learn to recognise it in a game, where the only object is to maximise some notion of joint production via the allocation of time. Once students have experienced this possibility, one can expand the pattern to talk about comparative advantages between countries, between the countryside and the city, between rulers and the ruled, between parents and their children, between partners in a marriage. The various forms of comparative advantage in various realms can be experienced in a virtual reality game, as well as by students re-interpreting their experiences as social beings.</p>
  1288. <p>Once students ‘get’ the point, both at a cognitive and emotional level, one can then put this into maths and statistics (which can become incredibly complex very quickly). By doing it this way round, mathematics is put in its proper place in social science: as a codification of what one knows by more basic means, not as the original source of the knowledge. The next step is to then combine the comparative advantage pattern with other patterns, like exchange and prices, or the notion of prior investments that create comparative advantages over time.<span id="more-32690"></span></p>
  1289. <p>A different pattern is that of abstract ideation wherein the approach to any social problem is to imagine some possible solution that comes with causal pathways as to how to get there. This act of the imagination has a huge number of examples, but the key thing is that a problem is encountered that requires a leap from where one is to where one thinks one could be. This pattern too can be taught in an experiential and layered manner.</p>
  1290. <p>A simple version of this is literally that of a journey with an obstacle (a tree over the road, a stream) where an act of the imagination causes one to jump over or go around the obstacle, using implicit knowledge of both the road and the obstacle. A less simple example is of imagining a paddle to get a boat to move from one end to the other. Another example is to imagine redistribution to solve poverty. A less simple example again is to imagine a god to which one can appeal to get it to rain (imagined solutions need not be right!). All these examples can be made experiential, enforced by field trips and actual conversations with people experiencing problems and telling stories of supposed solutions. By going over selected examples one is effectively re-imagining social science as a whole, breaking it all down into quite simple patterns.</p>
  1291. <p>Note that for this pattern one does not engage with the supposed solutions or even the supposed problems: it is the act of imagination that is itself put under the microscope, put into stylised and personal experiences, and eventually mathematised. For instance, the idea of a perfect market or a productivity possibilities frontier are classic examples of imaginative thinking in economics, but one need not look at either in any detail to &#8216;get&#8217; the idea of a leap of the imagination from what is to what could be.</p>
  1292. <p>A third example of a pattern is increasing returns to scale, ie that more can be produced if resources are bundled towards the same end. This too can go from very trite (cooperation begets more output) to more poignant (a unified band of warriors can subdue a much larger population and get all the benefits). By drawing out how very complex historical and societal processes involve very simple basic patterns, such as that the state at heart can be seen as a monopoly of violence, unifying themes between the social sciences are brought out that are currently known by insiders but that students will generically never see.</p>
  1293. <p>To learn to see basic patterns in history, current institutions, and in different social situations can be practised both via virtual reality games, as well as via field trips wherein students get to experience what it is like to be swept away by the crowd, to feel powerful, to be bewildered by hyper-inflation, and to be afraid of the unknown.</p>
  1294. <p>More complex phenomena and ideas can then be gradually built up as combinations of basic patterns. A well-functioning market for instance is a combination of various things: prior production by many sellers, planned consumption by many buyers, mediated exchange, visible price formation and implicit formation of knowledge about quality and trustworthiness. Each of these is a different pattern that can be seen in all the social sciences and that first should be studied and experienced on its own before adding them all together in an actual market. By letting students see the complexity of something like a market, they would also understand why it has proven too difficult to actually mathematise markets and that yet the discipline of economics relies heavily on market-derived thinking by simply presuming properties associated with markets in various situations (i.e. law of one price, zero-profits, etc.). Students would thus also start to see the quasi-religious elements in the various social sciences, not as a failing but as the optimal approach to complexity. Rather than present quasi-religious elements as a critique they would learn to see such elements are normal and present in all social sciences. There would thus be a liberation from false pretenses.</p>
  1295. <p>The teaching of mathematics at primary schools, particularly the Singapore model, now follows exactly this line of thinking: from simple to complex where one first really gets familiar with each basic pattern before combining the patterns. Children are for instance drilled into a lot of multiplications to ‘get’ what multiplication means. When they are then taught about exponentials they first extrapolate from their prior experience of multiplication to recognise that exponentials look a lot like a sequence of multiplications, though over time they learn it truly is a new pattern that then itself becomes the basis of further explorations.</p>
  1296. <p>Also, the Singapore model of teaching mathematics coopts the visual memory of students by using pictures, as-if situations, and natural-looking objects to teach the basic patterns. Many of the basic patterns of mathematics can be experienced, which makes it far easier for students to ‘get’ them and then to hold onto them. In the case of addition, multiplication and division this is trivial. But it is now also done for the normal distribution (which emerges for instance when one looks at the dispersion patterns of kicking a ball) and for logarithms (which emerges when one looks at increments in perception).</p>
  1297. <p>We should teach social science in the same way but coopting even more of the mental faculties of students, which would make seemingly complex and mysterious phenomena like love and religion look almost trivial once properly dissected.</p>
  1298. <p>Why don’t we do this already and what are hence the barriers? The biggest problem is the prior teaching and career incentives of the social scientists currently doing the teaching.</p>
  1299. <p>Social science has become increasingly specialised such that there are now thousands of little territories dominated by small groups of scientists who each write their own textbook about their supposedly unique subject area. This territorial game comes with the incentive for each little group to invent their own language or else to invent a very different meaning to the same words used by others. In the language of first-year economics, what each group does is to erect entry barriers to their basic knowledge so as to increase the monopoly rents they can then extract.</p>
  1300. <p>The current social scientists are not going to let go of their monopoly rents easily. In the development of an integrative curriculum they will complain and obstruct. They will resist the unification of language; they will resist having to re-think their subject in terms of simpler patterns; and they will only engage with more modern and immersive forms of teaching if they feel they have to.</p>
  1301. <p>The more famous the social scientist, the more of a problem they can be expected to be because the more they would have to lose from the de-mystification of their subject areas. The less famous social scientists have less to lose, but of course are usually less able to do the work of dissecting what is known across many areas into much simpler patterns.</p>
  1302. <p>A unifying approach to social science is potentially a huge boon to the university that gets it right, and as such something that interests the hierarchy. University administrators are used to having to deal with the egos of scientists and will thus easily recognise their inevitable whinging. Yet, on the other hand the administrations can fear the risks involved in field trips and immersive experiences needed to have students experience high-emotive phenomenon, such as the power of a crowd or the lure of religion. Scientists will on the other hand fear this much less and be rather intrigued by the challenge of creating the right environment in which such phenomena can be made experiential.</p>
  1303. <p>So one should expect both scientists and administrators to have problems with the approach sketched above, with the scientists fearing additional work and the loss of mystique whilst the administrators fearing the potential results of actual learning, i.e. students who have truly been challenged and changed.</p>
  1304. <p>What would it take to organise this? The virtual reality challenge is quite difficult. I happen to know that one attempt in this direction (Playconomics) took the creators 2 years of their life to program just one course. To put 10 courses into this kind of format would thus easily cost 20 work-years of high-end programming, i.e. it would easily take a team of 5 good programmers 4 years.</p>
  1305. <p>One should also not underestimate the task of dissecting current social science into more basic patterns. Based on my own experimentation in this direction over the years, I estimate it would need a team of about 5 good social scientists from the different disciplines incrementally going over the material together and agreeing on a common language and a common view of how the more complex phenomenon can be broken down into shared simpler patterns. They should be able to crack it in 2 years and then optimise the teaching in 5.</p>
  1306. <p>Then there is the experimentation with formats and field trips and whatnot. It will take a few years to get that right, costing a lot of effort in terms of organisation.</p>
  1307. <p>So I think it would take a team of roughly 15 people some 5 years to develop this and set it up as a 3.5 year set of 20 courses. If one adds material and facilities to this, one is hence talking in the range of 10-20 million dollars in terms of developmental costs. To do the experimentation one would furthermore need the active cooperation of an existing education institution with reasonable students being taught the initial courses.</p>
  1308. <p>Once there is an integrated curriculum, it is easy to see how it can evolve and spread: it would become like a commercially-owned internet platform for which any team in the world could build additional ‘apps’, where new developers would use the same language and the same set of basic patterns. Innovation would happen in terms of new areas, new complex patterns, and new teaching methods.</p>
  1309. <p>The commercial package as a whole could then be marketed and managed to reach millions of students each year who would all do the same exams, replacing the ridiculous situation we have now where each university maintains its own virtually identical curriculum in terms of content. The university system as a whole would thus be made much more efficient and profitable by getting rid of the immense and pointless duplication currently in the system.</p>
  1310. <p>A professionalisation of social science can also be expected to transform universities and the academy.</p>
  1311. <p>In terms of universities, we would go to the situation where there are a few universities that develop whole integrated curricula like the one I sketched above, whilst the rest become franchises in terms of content. As with car-manufacturers, we should get a few highly experimental top-end universities that compete with new designs and philosophies, ruthlessly experimenting on their own students and offering suites of products for external local tastes. The rest should specialise in providing feed-back to individual students, organising their own field trips, and adding a bit of local content, but otherwise simply teach the content of the leaders, branded as such.</p>
  1312. <p>The academy would also be transformed because a unified teaching approach would go a long way to break down the unnecessary silos between the many sub-disciplines. The students who are taught the unifying language and set of ideas would simply no longer respect the barriers to entry between groups. This should make it far easier to communicate and learn from each other. It would then become visible how little real innovation there has been to the basic curriculum in some areas and how much duplication there is in terms of research and ideas between areas. In turn, this should down the line lead to far fewer social scientists in academia, with perchance a growth of them elsewhere, such as in policy institutes and for-profit enterprises.</p>
  1313. <p>It can be done and embryonic steps in this direction can be seen across the world by different teams and individuals. The CoreEconomics project for instance enforces a single language and the Playconomics project uses virtual reality to great effect. Yet there is no attempt anywhere to truly scale all this up and to destroy the silos that constrain social science. The key problem is not so much the intellectual challenge or even the costs, but the current incentives of both scientists and administrators.</p>
  1314. ]]></content:encoded>
  1315. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/05/how-social-science-could-be-taught-a-vision-for-the-future/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  1316. <slash:comments>27</slash:comments>
  1317. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32690</post-id> </item>
  1318. <item>
  1319. <title>Paul Krugman’s incredible invisibility trick</title>
  1320. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/03/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick/</link>
  1321. <pubDate>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 00:55:59 +0000</pubDate>
  1322. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  1323. <category><![CDATA[Economics and public policy]]></category>
  1324. <category><![CDATA[Political theory]]></category>
  1325. <category><![CDATA[Politics - international]]></category>
  1326. <category><![CDATA[Politics - national]]></category>
  1327.  
  1328. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32783</guid>
  1329. <description><![CDATA[It’s impossible to avoid misjudgements in life or to get all one’s predictions right. But should economists get caught out quite so often? Paul Krugman is honest and self-critical. So he’s up for identifying what economists missed about globalisation – &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/02/03/paul-krugmans-incredible-invisibility-trick/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1330. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><strong><img class="irc_mi aligncenter" src="https://cdn0.tnwcdn.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2017/05/Scientists-Trick-Volunteers-into-Thinking-They-Have-an-Invisible-Body-479208-2.jpg" alt="Image result for invisibility trick" width="620" height="347" />It’s impossible to avoid misjudgements in life or to get all one’s predictions right. But should economists get caught out quite so often?</strong></p>
  1331. <p>Paul Krugman is honest and self-critical. So he’s up for identifying what economists missed about globalisation – including himself.</p>
  1332. <p><img class="attachment- size- wp-post-image" src="https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2019/03/GettyImages-518912433.jpg" alt="" width="724" height="483" />Of course, everyone’s wise in hindsight. Still, Krugman keeps reporting that economists ignored things that were … kind of obvious.</p>
  1333. <p>For one person to miss something is a misfortune.</p>
  1334. <p>But a whole profession doing it, again and again, seems like carelessness.</p>
  1335. <p><a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/94551-a-lucky-boy-from-a-golden-age-of-economics/">I’ve</a> previously <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/opinion/uses-and-abuses-of-economic-formalism-wonkish-and-self-referential.html">locked</a> horns <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/95353-nicholas-gruen-on-the-disciplinary-incentives-of-economics/">with</a> Krugman regarding his own tolerance of economists ignoring things that were staring them in the face — about which more shortly.</p>
  1336. <p>In any event, Krugman was in Melbourne recently to give an informative and enjoyable lecture in Max Corden’s honour (watch below).</p>
  1337. <p>One of his central points was to defend trade theory against ignorant critics.</p>
  1338. <p><a href="https://youtu.be/rWQ3jCURzy0?t=1444">As he pointed out</a>, although some critics accuse economists of arguing that free trade is good for everyone, that’s not economics speaking, but certain economic zealots pushing a barrow.</p>
  1339. <p>Standard trade theory suggests that freer trade will generate winners and losers. If imports decimate an industry, investors and workers in that industry will suffer harm. This is inter-industry trade expansion such as we&#8217;ve seen in Australia recently with increased imports of cars wiping out Australian car manufacturing, paid for by increased exports — mostly of iron ore and other primary commodities.</p>
  1340. <p>This was the trade that was implicit in economists’ models. But as Krugman points out, economists started realising that something else was going on from around the 1960s on.</p>
  1341. <h2>The fog of clear thinking</h2>
  1342. <p>Turns out Krugman blames clear thinking.<span id="more-32783"></span></p>
  1343. <p>If you think clearly — well you kind of just miss stuff. And it turns out that this clear thinking — which, of course, all your best colleagues are doing — leads them to miss stuff too. Even more worrying, they miss exactly the same stuff.</p>
  1344. <p>Here’s Krugman explaining how economists twigged to new realities of trade from the 1960s on:</p>
  1345. <blockquote><p>&#8220;If you look at where trade was growing, it was growing within Europe at the time and between countries that look quite similar. It was intra-industry trade among similar countries.<sup>1</sup> What was that about? Actually, that was an interesting thing because it was really very hard for people to … It was very hard for economists with formal models to even talk about that. For a while there, there was an advantage to not being, <em>not thinking too clearly</em> because if you didn’t think too clearly you could say, “Oh yes, obviously there’s advantages of large-scale production and you can produce a smaller number of products at large scale, export those, import other stuff.” But then economists would say, have you modelled that in general equilibrium? How do I handle the market structure? I can’t do that so it must not exist. Well, actually, we managed to pull that together.&#8221; (<em>Emphasis added</em>).</p></blockquote>
  1346. <p>I’ll expand on the invisibility of intra-industry trade shortly, but Krugman is on his way to explaining another disappearing trick.</p>
  1347. <p>As he argues, just after his own ‘new’ economic theory of trade and geography made it possible to ‘see’ intra-industry trade, a kind of<a href="https://youtu.be/rWQ3jCURzy0?t=1512"> intellectual Murphy’s Law</a> intervened. Just as the discipline was coming to understand what was really going on &#8230; what was really going on changed.<sup>2</sup></p>
  1348. <p>The 1990s saw the transition from <em>Pax Americana</em> to <em>Pax Sinica</em>, with the most populous and fastest growing country in the world, China, exporting its way to prosperity. And this intensified inter-industry trade with all its disruptive potential.</p>
  1349. <p>But isn’t it kind of obvious that, once China gets in on the act in a big way, the magnitude of things is going to change and that, with China’s very different labour costs, a lot of the trade expansion will be inter rather than intra-industry trade?</p>
  1350. <p>There was a further problem.</p>
  1351. <p>As we’ve known since at least the early 1900s, when Alfred Marshall documented it, manufacturing industry is very regionally specialised. So that means that, even where impacts are small at the national level, they can be very damaging for specific towns and regions — as it was for Hickory, North Carolina faced with a surge of Chinese furniture imports.</p>
  1352. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  1353. <p><img class="wp-image-106567 aligncenter" src="https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2019/04/Gruen-krugman-300x191.jpg" alt="" width="515" height="328" /></p>
  1354. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  1355. <p>Krugman acknowledges his own failure to anticipate this.</p>
  1356. <blockquote><p>&#8220;Having been a participant in a lot of the debates about trade and wages in the 90s I can say … I certainly missed … I wasn’t thinking at all about the dynamics of rapid change.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  1357. <p>So good on him. And I’m not particularly critical of him for not foreseeing it. He’s a busy guy writing two op-eds a week — #Srsly! — but he only does that in his spare time. His main job is thinking about stuff, and he happened to be thinking about other stuff. No-one can think about everything.</p>
  1358. <h2><strong>One can&#8217;t ignore the dynamics</strong></h2>
  1359. <p>But I am critical of him for is for his continuing complacency about his profession.</p>
  1360. <p>Note how he says he and his fellow economists weren’t focusing on dynamics. Well, it was those dynamics that the community was anxious about — they’re really everything in the political discussion of trade.</p>
  1361. <p>Krugman wasn’t thinking about dynamics because he was doing ‘comparative statics’ or comparing one long-run state with a counterfactual long-run state. And that was because that’s how trade theory has been built.</p>
  1362. <p>That great prize of modelling imperfect competition in ‘general equilibrium’, for which Krugman got another <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2008/krugman/lecture/">Great Prize</a>, wasn’t the most important thing we needed to know about trade. Indeed great economists of the past had warned us it was unlikely to tell us much — warnings which were vindicated in hindsight. But that was what floated the discipline’s boat.</p>
  1363. <p>As Keynes famously said regarding similar problems in macro-economics (and some readers may not be familiar with the whole quote):</p>
  1364. <blockquote><p>&#8220;The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if, in tempestuous seasons, they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  1365. <p>It seems to me all this is entirely forgivable for any one person. That’s why we have professions. And if a profession is too myopic, that’s why we have other professions. And if those professions are too myopic, that’s why we live in an open society. If it’s commonsensical, someone will point it out. But here it turns out that, for Krugman none of these resources were available.</p>
  1366. <p>Reflecting on whether or not economists should have considered the dynamics of change Krugman says this:</p>
  1367. <blockquote><p>&#8220;I think I can say with a fair degree of confidence that basically, nobody was, that this was just not the way that economists were thinking about the issue. We were thinking … in terms of long-run equilibrium models, which seemed reasonable but was actually missing a lot of what was going on.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  1368. <p>So, things that were both obvious when you thought about them even informally, and obviously important were invisible. They were invisible to a whole profession and … well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. I guess that’s clear thinking for you.</p>
  1369. <p>To show you this invisibility trick in all its glory, here’s <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2008/krugman/lecture/">Krugman’s Nobel acceptance speech</a> commenting on his theorising about intra-industry trade and the importance of industry-specific economies and scale and specialisation in driving trade:</p>
  1370. <blockquote><p>&#8220;You may think all this is obvious, and it is — now. But it was totally not obvious before 1980 or so — except for some prescient quotes from Paul Samuelson, you really can’t find anyone describing trade this way until after the theory had been laid out in mathematical models.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  1371. <p>The plain English version came later:</p>
  1372. <blockquote><p>&#8220;And you should bear in mind that economists have been thinking and writing about international trade for a couple of centuries; to come along and say, “Hey, we’ve been missing half the story” was a pretty big thing.&#8221;</p></blockquote>
  1373. <p>As I wrote in my article on Krugman’s reaction to my speech launching Max Corden’s memoirs:</p>
  1374. <blockquote><p>“For all his brilliance, I’m repeatedly shocked at Krugman’s complacency regarding his own discipline”.</p></blockquote>
  1375. <p>What could Krugman possibly mean when he tells his Stockholm audience that “the plain English version” came after his theory?</p>
  1376. <p>What’s his response to the list I mentioned in my speech?</p>
  1377. <ul>
  1378. <li>Hicks (1959)</li>
  1379. <li>Linder (1961)</li>
  1380. <li>Elkan (1965)</li>
  1381. <li>Vernon (1966)</li>
  1382. <li>Balassa (1966)</li>
  1383. <li>Drysdale (1969)</li>
  1384. <li>Grubel (1967)</li>
  1385. <li>Gorden (1970)</li>
  1386. <li>Lloyd (1975)</li>
  1387. <li>Bhagwati (1973)</li>
  1388. <li>Gray (1976)</li>
  1389. <li>Krueger (1978)</li>
  1390. </ul>
  1391. <p>I’m genuinely baffled, given Krugman would be familiar with most if not all these authors.<sup>3</sup></p>
  1392. <p>There were plenty of canaries in the coal mine regarding the China Shock. They just weren’t giving seminars in the economics departments of the Ivy League.</p>
  1393. <p>All of this reminds me of Robert Solow’s devastating observation, “Sometimes I think it is only my weakness of character that keeps me from making obvious errors”.</p>
  1394. <p>Solow was a passionate believer in an older style of economic thinking, in which formal analysis developed in close dialogue with — and ideally was enveloped by — close discursive reasoning, though in the passage just quoted he was speaking about the pull of left and right wing ideology.</p>
  1395. <p>Still, sometimes I think it’s Paul Krugman’s and his professions ‘clear thinking’ that leads them to make obvious errors — at least until after the event.</p>
  1396. <h2>References</h2>
  1397. <ol>
  1398. <li>As he pointed out, economists have always argued that even though freer trade can be expected to lead to aggregate gains, it comes with substantial adjustment costs. This is because the standard understanding of trade was that it was driven by comparative costs. And this was always understood to involve expanding inter-industry trade. Thus Australia would export more coal, wool and iron ore and import more cameras clothes and cars. That’s obviously disruptive for the poor souls employed making clothes and cars (I’m not sure how many cameras we ever made but we probably made <a href="http://brownie-camera.com/22b.jpg">Box Brownies</a> at least.) But if Australia exports Commodores and imports Mercedes it’s a very different story.</li>
  1399. <li>As an aside my favourite example of this law is Malthus’s Principle of Population — perhaps we should call it Malthus’s law in his honour. It took until 1798 for someone to come up with an explanation for why human beings stayed close to substance despite considerable growth in economies and in technology — which was that population grew geometrically and would eventually absorb any additional production — which Malthus assumed would grow linearly. This was a very powerful explanation for a stylised fact which applied more or less to the whole of human history. But it was changing just as Malthus cooked up his theory. Today our living standards are around 25 times subsistence — smashed avocado brunch, anyone?</li>
  1400. <li>The only way I can think of to rescue some semblance of sense in Krugman’s assertion is to say that by ‘no-one’ he means no-one who matters. But even this is hard to square with the list. He described Max Corden as a great economist in his lecture. And John Hicks is amongst the greatest economists of the twentieth century. So it’s not even economists in the top draw. It seems like a kind of tautological statement that economists who thought about trade in a particular way didn’t see it.</li>
  1401. </ol>
  1402. ]]></content:encoded>
  1403. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32783</post-id> </item>
  1404. <item>
  1405. <title>What is a &#8216;policy hack&#8217;?</title>
  1406. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/27/what-is-a-policy-hack/</link>
  1407. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/27/what-is-a-policy-hack/#comments</comments>
  1408. <pubDate>Sun, 27 Jan 2019 15:09:52 +0000</pubDate>
  1409. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  1410. <category><![CDATA[Uncategorized]]></category>
  1411.  
  1412. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32677</guid>
  1413. <description><![CDATA[Cross-posted from The Mandarin. I Since I used the term ‘policy hack’ in my presentation “What economic reform thinking might look like if we’d bothered to do it”, I’ve had a number of exchanges with Martin Wolf, my discussant that &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/27/what-is-a-policy-hack/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1414. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Cross-posted from <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/103093-what-is-a-policy-hack/">The Mandarin</a>.</p>
  1415. <h2 style="text-align: center">I</h2>
  1416. <p>Since I used the term ‘policy hack’ in my presentation <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2018/12/03/my-presentation-in-london/"><em>“What economic reform thinking might look like if we’d bothered to do it”</em></a>, I’ve had a number of exchanges with Martin Wolf, my discussant that evening, about what I mean. Here’s how I defined the term when I first used it in the essay I ran up to support the<a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2018/12/03/my-presentation-in-london/"> presentation</a>:</p>
  1417. <blockquote><p>I use the term ‘hack’ here to mean “a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing something” (<a href="https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hack">Dictionary.com</a>). Though the term is <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_hack#History">sometimes taken</a> to imply inelegant effectiveness, the policy ‘hacks’ covered here are often simple, but, because they typically work by some clear distinction being made (for instance between funding and provision or property rights and externalities) they are often also elegant.</p></blockquote>
  1418. <p>The point is best made by example. Speaking of the wave of economic reform from the 1970s on I suggested that, while its political impetus was declining economic performance in the wake of the 1970s oil shocks, its intellectual underpinnings went back to a cluster of ideas originating from the 1950s on. Moreover, I distinguished between ‘ideas’ and ‘hacks’. Friedman’s ‘idea’ was unbundling delivery from funding leading to the ‘hacks’ of vouchers and income-contingent loans, for instance. Coase’s ‘idea’ was to think about externalities as an artefact of the definition and assignment of property rights, the corresponding ‘hacks’ being such things as pollution permits and spectrum auctions.</p>
  1419. <p>By contrast, I pointed to George Stigler’s research into utility regulation in the 1950s which documented the results of ‘regulatory capture’. This provides us with an ‘idea’ (price regulation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.) It also leads us to ask if we could change things to improve this – change regulatory governance or whatever. But where, in the cases above, the hacks arise as ‘aha’ moments from the analysis (even if such aha moments turn out to be a dead end or require lots more development), Stigler’s critique, his ‘idea’ tells us something’s wrong but doesn’t lead directly to any ‘aha’ moment as to how to fix it.<sup><strong><a id="ref1" href="#fn1">1</a></strong></sup></p>
  1420. <h2 style="text-align: center">II</h2>
  1421. <p>My point in all this was to put the ideas leading to policy hacks high in the hierarchy of contributions economists can make to their species. The things I&#8217;ve done in economics that have been most useful, conform to my definition of ‘hack’. In each of these cases, some new way of looking at things produces an array of policy tricks or hacks. And there’s preferably some elegance to the way the ‘hack’ flows from some idea.<sup><strong><a id="ref2" href="#fn2">2</a></strong></sup></p>
  1422. <p><a href="https://press.princeton.edu/titles/7479.html">Robert Shiller’s ideas for new markets in risk</a> are all hacks, all stemming from the ‘idea’ that the way the financial products that do exist are defined is some relatively arbitrary product of history. That means numerous potentially very useful markets don’t exist. Or, since all the suggestions are ‘why don’t we create a market in that’, perhaps one could say they’re a single hack in a litany of guises.</p>
  1423. <p>Peter Martin’s recent list of a <a href="https://theconversation.com/my-magnificent-seven-seven-really-bright-ideas-and-one-as-old-as-time-itself-from-2018-108498">Magnificent Seven</a> new policy ideas forces me to further distinctions. Are they all hacks? Well if I make them all hacks, then my new term ‘hack’ doesn’t say anything distinctive. It seems to me that most of the proposals could be described as hacks, though not surprisingly, some of <a href="https://theconversation.com/fresh-thinking-the-carbon-tax-that-would-leave-households-better-off-107177">the best proposals are not original</a>. Another, proposing that we tax super to fund aged care is a hack in the sense that it’s coupled with a reasonable idea (taxes on super earnings are both progressive and fall more heavily on those closer to needing aged care because older super beneficiaries have larger portfolios), but I don’t think the match between the idea and the hack is particularly elegant or pleasing.</p>
  1424. <p>I think one of the best policy ideas which is <a href="https://theconversation.com/cut-the-pension-boost-newstart-what-our-algorithm-says-is-the-best-way-to-get-value-for-our-welfare-dollars-108417">better targeting of welfare</a> isn’t really a hack. It’s the solution of an optimisation problem that the researchers gave themselves – with some fancy new modelling they’ve managed to do. Good on them. Still, I could find ways to disagree with this conclusion. One could argue that the ‘idea’ from which the hack arises is that of ‘optimising’ welfare payments to minimise poverty.</p>
  1425. <h2 style="text-align: center">III</h2>
  1426. <p>Is a policy hack just what philosopher Karl Popper called “piecemeal reform”? Well yes. But no.</p>
  1427. <p><span id="more-32677"></span>I’m happy for ‘hacks’ to be regarded as a subset of piecemeal reform. How could they be anything else? But Popper’s injunction to limit oneself to piecemeal reform doesn’t seem to rule out much. His wider mission was seeking to develop criteria of demarcation by which one could identify the One True Path – towards good science, good social science and so, good policy. In each case he saw himself as advocating modest, open, empirically informed, humble and corrigible approaches against hubristic, closed, rationalistic, self-justifying and incorrigible folly and megalomania (of both the intellectual and political kind).</p>
  1428. <p>As part of a swingeing attack on what he called ‘historicism’ which represented the totalitarian urge (most particularly Marxism) Popper juxtaposed ‘piecemeal’ and ‘utopian’ social engineering. The latter involves a comprehensive reordering of life in pursuit of utopian ends. But ruling this out as a policy objective doesn’t tell us much. If it rules out any actual policymaking in history, it rules out the chaos of some revolutions particularly the French one with its resetting of the calendar, (but probably not the American one) and the wilder more homicidal or suicidal cults of history. But nothing much else.<sup><strong><a id="ref3" href="#fn3">3</a></strong></sup></p>
  1429. <p>His point seems to be the pretty unarguable one that we’re terribly ignorant and the social world massively complex, so it’s important that the change we make is corrigible – and corrected for apparent mistakes as we go.<sup><strong><a id="ref4" href="#fn4">4</a></strong></sup> Still, he also concedes that there’s an inevitable “piecemeal haphazardness” to ‘utopian reform’ to address endless unintended consequences (p. 68). Popper’s enemy really seems to be a kind of ‘spirit’ of what he calls “activism” not unlike Adam Smith’s objection to the ‘Man of System’ and Burke’s concern about the utopianism of the French Revolution.<sup><strong><a id="ref5" href="#fn5">5</a></strong></sup></p>
  1430. <h2>IV</h2>
  1431. <p>Nevertheless it seems to me that Popper’s idea of utopianism does provide a way into something important that my idea of a hack seeks to get at. A hack is a specific policy arising from a specific insight and it’s in pursuit of clear and easily identifiable benefits. A lot of economic reform was not pursued in this way. It was utopian in this sense outlined by Popper (note however that Popper still admits it as acceptable piecemeal reform):</p>
  1432. <blockquote><p>The politician who adopts this [piecemeal] method may or may not have a blueprint of society before his mind, he may or may not hope that mankind will one day realize an ideal state, and achieve happiness and perfection on earth. But he will be aware that perfection, if at all attainable, is far distant and that every generation of men, and therefore also the living, have a claim.<sup><strong><a id="ref6" href="#fn6">6</a></strong></sup></p></blockquote>
  1433. <p>A lot of the policymaking of the reform period was precisely this kind of reform. Reformers might not have described themselves as in pursuit of perfection on earth, but they had a comprehensive vision of transformation in which liberalisation was somehow to be pursued if not quite for its own sake (it was for the sake of higher GDP) – then as an article of faith that such action would achieve that objective.<sup><strong><a id="ref7" href="#fn7">7</a></strong></sup></p>
  1434. <p>Hacks will generally be much more specific in their practical motivation. Generalising from the ones I can think of, they will mostly also involve impacts which are localised to the systems in which they arise with impacts outside their immediate sphere being second order. Some, like <a href="http://evonomics.com/success-means-competing-cooperating-adam-smith-youve-never-seen/">public-private digital partnerships</a>, would radiate impacts more widely, but this is primarily because they are more ‘connected’. And other hacks might sound attractive but involve daunting complexities which could count against them. Thus, my proposals for competitive neutrality would have straightforward impacts in most areas in which they were tried, including <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/14/productivity-commission-super-report-apply-the-medicare-approach-to-super/">superannuation</a>, but in <a href="http://evonomics.com/central-banks-for-everyone-nicholas-gruen/">central banking</a> they change the nature of the institution to which they’re applied with consequences which are potentially much more wide-ranging and difficult to comprehend in advance.</p>
  1435. <h4>Footnotes</h4>
  1436. <ol>
  1437. <li id="fn1">I wonder whether things might be improved if a regulatory body were governed by some board chosen by random selection from a cadre with domain expertise but without conflicts of interest. But not only do I have no great confidence that this would make things much better, there’s no direct sense in which it follows from Stigler’s analysis. In that sense, there’s no ‘hack’ there.<a title="Jump back to footnote 1 in the text." href="#ref1"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1438. <li id="fn2">
  1439. <ul>
  1440. <li>“<a href="http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/central-banking-all-modest-case-radical-reform">Central Banking for All</a>” and “Commonwealth Super for All” are policy hacks with the conceptual innovation behind both being <a href="http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/222118/sub039-financial-system.pdf">competitive neutrality as a competitive sword</a> in addition to competitive neutrality as a shield for business.</li>
  1441. <li><a href="http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/government-impresario">Public-private digital partnerships</a>. This is a policy hack arising from the characterisation of Google and Facebook as ‘public goods by choice’. The entrepreneurs building them realised that the value of the services they’d deliver as free public goods would dwarf their value as private goods delivered for a fee behind a paywall. Because the cost of delivering the service was so low compared with the value it created they could become as rich as Croesus by giving it away and monetising through ads. This suggests the existence of other potential digital public goods that cost more to deliver than can be recovered without charging a fee. Public-private digital partnerships can accordingly unlock such possibilities and many exciting ones can be envisaged with additional benefits from the state ensuring that the public interest predominates in system design and pricing.</li>
  1442. <li>Convening the emergence of standards: Market leaders of various kinds have an interest in releasing their own data demonstrating their relative prowess. But there’s little incentive to do so because, there being no standard against which to report, they would gain nothing from it. Therefore convening groups to define such standards could unleash a torrent of useful data which could improve information flows in important markets. “<a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2009/04/25/the-2020-summit-and-me/">Windows on Workplaces</a>” is one hack to which these ideas led though there would be many more.</li>
  1443. <li><a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2005/10/25/should-we-impose-an-access-regime-on-certain-microsoft-products/">Digital access regimes</a>: Given its market power in the sector and its being the result of network externalities, not product superiority, we should impose an access regime on Microsoft Office products whereby its file formats should be fully documented publicly to permit anyone to write to them without the bugs that occur now and other producers of word processing software should be able to copy the look and feel of the Microsoft&#8217;s products. This neatly interdicts the source of Microsoft’s market power – network externalities. Similar targeted access regimes could be imposed on dominant platforms cleaving off the benefits of network externalities from the services the platforms provide, though I can’t see it solving all problems – for instance the advertising monopoly on Google search.</li>
  1444. <li><a href="https://lateraleconomics.com.au/output/beyond-taylorism-regulating-innovation/">Rights to alternative regulatory compliance</a>. Those who are regulated would have the right to demand some statement of objectives from regulators and if they could meet those objectives in some other auditable way, they would have a right to do so.For instance:<a title="Jump back to footnote 2 in the text." href="#ref2"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1445. </ul>
  1446. </li>
  1447. <li id="fn3">Indeed Popper pretty much concedes this and the difficulty in actually drawing the distinction he has made between piecemeal and utopian engineering, retreating back into the ‘motivations’ of the engineers.<a title="Jump back to footnote 3 in the text." href="#ref3"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1448. <li id="fn4">In fact, as one proceeds through Popper’s quite scrupulous consideration of exceptions, things become quite murky:&#8221;It may be questioned, perhaps, whether the piecemeal and the holistic approaches here described are fundamentally different, considering that we have put no limits to the scope of a piecemeal approach. … [C]onstitutional reform, for example, falls well within its scope; nor shall I exclude the possibility that a series of piecemeal reforms might be inspired by one general tendency, for example, a tendency towards a greater equalization of incomes.&#8221;In this way, piecemeal methods may lead to changes in what is usually called the &#8216;class structure of society&#8217;. Is there any difference, it may be asked, between these more ambitious kinds of piecemeal engineering and the holistic or Utopian approach? And this question may become even more pertinent if we consider that, when trying to assess the likely consequences of some proposed reform, the piecemeal technologist must do his best to estimate the effects of any measure upon the &#8216;whole&#8217; of society.&#8221; (Popper, K. R. 1957. The Poverty of Historicism, The Beacon Press, p. 68)<a title="Jump back to footnote 4 in the text." href="#ref4"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1449. <li id="fn5">Thus the difference between Utopian and piecemeal engineering turns out, in practice, to be a difference not so much in scale and scope as in caution and in preparedness for unavoidable surprises. (Popper, Historicism, p. 69).<a title="Jump back to footnote 5 in the text." href="#ref5"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1450. <li id="fn6">Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, p. 158.<a title="Jump back to footnote 6 in the text." href="#ref6"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1451. <li id="fn7">I’d say the same about the framing of the PC report into competition policy in human services (implicit in the terms of reference it received from the Government) in which the aim was always to contract services out and increase competition, rather than to achieve specific goals in human services or efficiency.<a title="Jump back to footnote 7 in the text." href="#ref7"><img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72x72/21a9.png" alt="↩" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /></a></li>
  1452. </ol>
  1453. ]]></content:encoded>
  1454. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/27/what-is-a-policy-hack/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  1455. <slash:comments>4</slash:comments>
  1456. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32677</post-id> </item>
  1457. <item>
  1458. <title>We&#8217;re giving people Australia Day honours for doing their jobs</title>
  1459. <link>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/25/were-giving-people-australia-day-honours-for-doing-their-jobs/</link>
  1460. <comments>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/25/were-giving-people-australia-day-honours-for-doing-their-jobs/#comments</comments>
  1461. <pubDate>Fri, 25 Jan 2019 13:38:25 +0000</pubDate>
  1462. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Nicholas Gruen]]></dc:creator>
  1463. <category><![CDATA[Cultural Critique]]></category>
  1464. <category><![CDATA[Democracy]]></category>
  1465. <category><![CDATA[History]]></category>
  1466. <category><![CDATA[Inequality]]></category>
  1467. <category><![CDATA[Society]]></category>
  1468.  
  1469. <guid isPermaLink="false">http://clubtroppo.com.au/?p=32662</guid>
  1470. <description><![CDATA[The column below generated more engagement than any column I&#8217;ve written before – in Australia at least. Thanks to Peter Martin for chasing me up on writing the piece and suggesting major improvements to it. The research was done months &#8230; <a href="http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/25/were-giving-people-australia-day-honours-for-doing-their-jobs/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a>]]></description>
  1471. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<div id="attachment_32663" style="width: 3421px" class="wp-caption alignleft"><img class="wp-image-32663 size-full" src="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/25212239/AO-Image.jpg" alt="" width="3411" height="2332" srcset="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/25212239/AO-Image.jpg 3411w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/25212239/AO-Image-300x205.jpg 300w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/25212239/AO-Image-768x525.jpg 768w, http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/25212239/AO-Image-1024x700.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 3411px) 100vw, 3411px" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Verily this is a very nice looking AC. Made of gold I believe and sitting on maroon velvet. It&#8217;s got wattle on the ribbon, is inlaid with semi-precious stones with the crown sitting at the top. Lucky we got rid of calling people Sir so and so and brought in something much more sensible. Lapel pins that people can wear in business class departure lounges.</p></div>
  1472. <p>The column below generated more engagement than any column I&#8217;ve written before – in Australia at least. Thanks to Peter Martin for chasing me up on writing the piece and suggesting major improvements to it. The research was done months ago and it was quite likely I&#8217;d have forgotten to wheel it out for this year&#8217;s Australia Day which was the obvious day to publish.</p>
  1473. <p>It was published in <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-awarding-the-order-of-australia-to-the-wrong-people-110487" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> and Peter got the Age, the SMH and the ABC website to run it all with Conversation credits. At the time of sending this out it had garnered over 150 comments on the Conversation almost all supportive and was being picked up on <a href="http://qoshe.com/yazar/nicholas-gruen/2536447">various other sites</a>.</p>
  1474. <div>
  1475. <div class="content-header-block">
  1476. <h1 class="entry-title instapaper_title"><strong>We’re awarding the Order of Australia to the wrong people</strong><time datetime="2019-01-24T19:14:33Z"></time></h1>
  1477. </div>
  1478. </div>
  1479. <p>More than 800 of us are in line for an Order of Australia on Australia Day.</p>
  1480. <p>Sadly, as Lateral Economics research reveals, many will get it for little more than doing their job. And the higher the job’s status, the higher the award.</p>
  1481. <p>Governors General, High Court Justices and Vice Chancellors of major universities would hope for the highest Companion of the Order (AC). Professors, public service departmental heads, senior business people should hope for the next one down – an Officer of the Order (AO). School Principals would generally slot in next for Members of the Order (AM).</p>
  1482. <p>If you’re lucky, or you’ve done your job extraordinarily well, you’ll be promoted one rank, but that’s pretty much it.</p>
  1483. <h2>We reward most the already rewarded</h2>
  1484. <p><span id="more-32662"></span></p>
  1485. <p>Meanwhile, those who succeed in some achievement principally in and for their community usually qualify for the lowest award if that; the Medal of the Order (OAM). And usually only if they’ve become conspicuous.</p>
  1486. <p>The level of gratitude amongst recipients seems to follow an equal and opposite arc. Those at the bottom seem the most thrilled for being recognised the least.</p>
  1487. <p>Distinction in putting others first gets short shrift. As Anne Summers <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-29/summers-representation-order-of-australia/4488154">lamented</a> in 2013:</p>
  1488. <p>Seven years ago I nominated a woman I admire for an Australian honour. It took two years but it came through and she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for a lifetime of work with victims of domestic violence. I was disappointed she had not been given a higher award &#8211; I had hoped for an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) at the very least &#8211; but she was thrilled and so was her family.</p>
  1489. <p>Money, fame and status are nothing to be sneezed at if they are honestly earned. But they are their own reward. Why should they beget other rewards?</p>
  1490. <h2>We could be putting awards to use</h2>
  1491. <p>Here’s an idea. Why don’t we award honours to encourage people to do more than their job? In a world which is lavishing increasing rewards on the ‘haves’, the worldly rewards for ‘getting on’ need little bolstering.</p>
  1492. <p>Knowing that awards are reserved for people who do more than their jobs might encourage us to choose more selfless and socially committed lives at the outset of our careers.</p>
  1493. <p>There’s a hunger among the young to do just that – to combine good, privately rewarding careers with serving their community and tackling social ills.</p>
  1494. <p>If honours are “the principal means by which the nation officially recognises the merit of its citizens” as the 2011 <a href="https://www.gg.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/foi/OofAReview2011.pdf">Government House</a> review put it, I’d like to use it to encourage those people the most.</p>
  1495. <p>Wouldn’t it be more consistent with Australian values?</p>
  1496. <h2>It’d make them more Australian</h2>
  1497. <p>Government House provides online biographies of all those awarded honours. Lateral Economics sampled around half of them back to 2013 looking specifically at the gender division of honours and the extent to which those biographies included descriptions of work done without personal gain.</p>
  1498. <p>Barely more than a quarter of Order of Australia recipients recorded voluntary work in their biographies.</p>
  1499. <p>And those that did were more likely to be near the bottom of the awards ladder.</p>
  1500. <p>Over a third of those receiving the very bottom award, the OAM, were engaged in obviously selfless work, compared with a fifth at the top with just two out of ten ACs.</p>
  1501. <p>Still we may be making a little progress. Perhaps spurred by sentiments such as those expressed by Anne Summers, last year saw a higher percentage of women than in any previous year. Unusually, six women got the top honour, the AC, compared with four men, and the proportion with voluntary service broke through the 30 percent barrier for the first time.</p>
  1502. <p>I wonder what Australia Day will bring. I’m thinking that whatever it is, we can do a lot better, for our community, and our country.</p>
  1503. <p><strong>Postscript: one of the interviews of the article.</strong></p>
  1504. <audio class="wp-audio-shortcode" id="audio-32662-2" preload="none" style="width: 100%;" controls="controls"><source type="audio/mpeg" src="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/26152857/Expert_says_most_Order_of_Australia_recipients_arent_seriously_excellent.mp3?_=2" /><a href="http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/26152857/Expert_says_most_Order_of_Australia_recipients_arent_seriously_excellent.mp3">http://files.ozblogistan.com.au/sites/5/2019/01/26152857/Expert_says_most_Order_of_Australia_recipients_arent_seriously_excellent.mp3</a></audio>
  1505. ]]></content:encoded>
  1506. <wfw:commentRss>http://clubtroppo.com.au/2019/01/25/were-giving-people-australia-day-honours-for-doing-their-jobs/feed/</wfw:commentRss>
  1507. <slash:comments>4</slash:comments>
  1508. <enclosure url="http://clubtroppo.com.au/files/2019/01/Expert_says_most_Order_of_Australia_recipients_arent_seriously_excellent.mp3" length="10576676" type="audio/mpeg" />
  1509. <post-id xmlns="com-wordpress:feed-additions:1">32662</post-id> </item>
  1510. </channel>
  1511. </rss>
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