Welcome to Missing Link Friday — a quick tour of a few of the issues Australian bloggers have been following during the week. Will it become a regular feature? Let’s see. I’ll be running this alongside Ken Parish’s new reader-driven Missing Link where you get to share your favorite posts.
Open season on Annabel Crabb
On the internet, readers expect their news for free, says ABC Online’s Annabel Crabb. But the trouble is, good journalism is expensive to do. She also called for an end to the old media-new media wars, calling on bloggers not to knock journalists when they tried moving online.
Crabb had plenty more to say in her AN Smith lecture in journalism — 6,917 words worth — and it didn’t take long for the online knockers to emerge.
Long-time blogger Tim Dunlop declared that it was only journalists who worried about the "blog v journalism thing" these days. "Bloggers and other media consumers are over it. It is journalists who remain obsessed with the pissing contest." And to show how over it he was, he added:
many blogs and other online sites are superior to anything the mainstream media can throw up. What’s more, the people who run them are trusted more than journalists.
Mr Denmore is also unimpressed with the state of Australian journalism, remarking that it: "is in crisis not because the media’s classified advertising business model has been blow apart. It is in crisis because the product is simply not very good." And turning to Annabel Crabb he wrote:
Ms Crabbe [sic] clearly is a charming and likeable person and undoubtedly a talented sketch writer. But I am bemused that she seems to have risen at such a young age and with so little experience to become a kind of spokesperson for the future of media and journalism, particularly when what she has to say is so banal and superficial and ridden with the shallow vanity about their craft to which young journalists tend to succumb.
Of course not everyone is unhappy about the state of the media. In a post titled ‘Media whore that I am…‘ Catallaxy’s Sinclair Davidson mentioned that he scored this year’s Thought Leadership Media Star Award at RMIT. He thanked "all the editors who commission op-eds, and to the journalists who call me up to chat."
The past week has been ‘kick the crap out of Joe Hockey’ week, writes Greg Jericho at Grog’s Gamut. The Shadow Treasurer announced a nine-point plan to bring the banks into line. As Peter Martin writes, Labor had a field day pointing out how inconsistent Hockey’s comments on banking have been over the past ten years. And ANZ’s chief Mike Smith compared the Shadow Treasurer to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
But not everyone was kicking Joe. At Core Economics, Joshua Gans has a post titled ‘I heart Hockeynomics‘. He writes:
Of course, that depends upon what that means. But if it means reevaluating our system of financial regulation to ensure it is working for us and for consumers, then count me in.
At Grog’s Gamut, Greg suggests that Hockey’s comments are more Paul Keating than Hugo Chavez, and he serves up some vintage PJK to make the point. "Hockey has been saying some damn smart things this week" writes Greg.
The ‘Analyst’ at True Politik notes that even Hockey’s fellow Liberals are giving him a hard time, but "For all the bagging Hockey has received, a new Banking Inquiry might not be such a bad idea."
At Politically Homeless, Andrew Elder isn’t sure what to think about Hockey’s plan. And who’s to blame for this uncertainty?:
Maybe Hockey’s nine points would do the country a power of good, or maybe they’re a crock from a lazy mind desperate to be taken seriously; it’s hard to tell and the media aren’t doing their job of helping us decide either way.
Howard is spruiking his book and he’s using used his memoirs to settle personal scores with Peter Costello. Costello bites back. Yawn. We’ve all moved on and we couldn’t care less about the Howard/Costello bun fight.
Next week,the Centre for Independent Studies will host an event to mark the book’s launch. Sukrit Sabhlok at the libertarian blog Thoughts on Freedom is moved to sarcasm :
The former Prime Minister John Howard is a man of tremendous wisdom and insight, who has numerous brilliant ideas on how to change our society for the better. Indeed he is undoubtedly the greatest Australian classical liberal. While in government, he instituted many policies lowering taxes, moving towards free trade and cutting government spending.
When he left office, the size of government was 50% smaller than when he entered it.
He promised to never introduce the Goods and Services Tax, and by golly, he stuck to his guns!
In John Howard we find someone with unshakable principles and integrity, never once bowing to lobbyists, and always defending fundamental planks of the liberal program: gun rights, drug legalization, peaceful foreign policy and anti-central banking.
Let us all rejoice and buy his new book, now available at a store near you.
Trick or treat?
"Supermarkets, newsagencies and discount stores are filled with Halloween-themed costumes and trinkets" writes Angus Kidman at Life Hacker Australia. Most commenters seem to regard it as a noxious American import. It’s just "another excuse for retailers to peddle useless junk" adds Alvaro Ojeda.
Come dressed as your favourite dead economist, and be enlightened by some economics for the living dead.
In an Irish/Zombie tradition, there will be prizes for the best economic zombie limerick
New Matilda rises from the dead (maybe)
The website was resurrected last week, and rather than rely on advertising, they are now seeking direct financial support from readers to maintain operations. They are giving themselves until the end of December to raise enough money to keep going.
Are the humanities dying?
The "landscape for the humanities disciplines, once you move beyond the main metropolitan universities, looks like scorched earth", writes Graeme Turner in the Australian. Larvatus Prodeo’s Mark Bahnisch responded with a series of posts.
According to Mark Australia has been in the forefront of "rationalising and abolishing humanistic disciplines" with the UK and US catching up rapidly.
At Club Troppo, Ken Parish blames the Dawkins reforms that transformed teachers’ colleges and CAEs into universities and re-introduced fees (along with a deferred payment option HECs):
it was inevitable that students’ enrolment decisions would be dominated by public perceptions of the likely immediate vocational payoff from “investment” in a university degree. The soft humanities tend to do poorly on such perceptions.
Most higher research in the humanities is bunk, writes Skepticlawyer who argues that there are too many universities and too many people going to universities. She argues that science students should be forced to study languages and humanities students forced to study science. On the way through she takes a swipe at French theorist Michel Foucault. It "is clear that his Latin is weak to non-existent", she writes.
Jim Belshaw continues the conversation with some personal reflections on his association with the University of New England.
Why are Australians super-sizing their homes, asks the Melbourne Urbanist’s Alan Davies. New homes has grown at the same time as the number of people per household has fallen. According to Alan, our new suburban houses now have an average of 85 square metres per person (more than double the average in 1970, according to Clive Hamilton ).
Australians have changed the way they think about housing, writes Alan. Buying a house used to be about buying a place to live — it was about consumption. But today, it’s about investment — about building wealth for the future. "Recent history has convinced home buyers that residential property is a good, even spectacular, investment", he writes:
From the perspective of many home buyers, a bigger house not only provides more consumption value but is seen as a sound long-term investment decision. Unlike a car, which depreciates in value, buyers assume every dollar spent on a house ultimately increases in value. A bigger house might even appreciate in value faster than a smaller house.
Are houses really a good investment? Not according to Leith van Onselen at the Unconventional Economist, Leith looks across the Tasman to New Zealand and concludes that "New Zealand appears to be experiencing a similar, albeit milder, debt-fuelled housing bubble to Australia". Hugh Pavletich, co-author the Demographia housing affordability survey pops up in the comments thread to discuss his favourite issue — the supply of land on the urban fringe.
While he hasn’t written on the issue in the past week, Christopher Joye has long argued against the idea of an Australian housing bubble. Back in March he wrote on Aussie Macro Moments that "the ‘bubble’ moniker is almost exclusively reserved for those who are talking out of their behinds when it comes to housing."
Update: I blogged too soon! Today Christopher Joye writes: “There has been much recent talk about housing bubbles, which appears to be a universal constant in the local landscape no matter what part of the cycle one finds oneself in …”