Missing Link Friday – It’s back!

Beyond soundbites: "There’s so much potential for political parties, who are more and more thought to be hollow, soulless things, to allow their MPs to show what they actually believe in and engage with people. Soundbites were useful when someone else controlled how much time you had to make your point, but now there’s no limit to how long MPs can spend arguing their case." Anna Winter on how technology is transforming politics.

How to win a Republican primary: "To survive a Republican debate you are required to hold the incoherent view that the budget should be balanced immediately, taxes cut dramatically, and the major categories of spending (the military, Social Security, Medicare) left largely intact. There is no way to make these numbers add up, and the candidates do not try, relying instead on focus-group tested denunciations of Obama and abstract hostility to the ways of Washington." Jacob Weisberg, Slate.

Are traditional media institutions worth saving? In an age of internet-enabled networks, should established media institutions be allowed to wither away? Dean Starkman says no. Gary Sauer-Thompson isn’t convinced: "Most journalism takes the form of infotainment or partisan political commentary; operates within narrow intellectual boundaries; favours ‘he said she said’ analysis; avoids public policy issues; and doesn’t even bother with facts anymore. Honestly, not much public-interest reporting is produced in Australia’s existing media institutions."

Mr Denmore’s 12-step program for junk media junkies in 2012: Stop watching Q&A, turn off the Insiders, ignore the polls and spend more time at the pub. But what about Andrew Bolt?

Justice without borders: Does justice require rich countries to redistribute resources to poor ones? At Oz Conservative Mark Richardson discusses Kok-Chor Tan’s book, Toleration, Diversity and Global Justice.

What if poor people don’t like money? According to Greg Mankiw: "one reason that people differ in their incomes is that some people care more about having a high income than others." In a post about Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, Bryan Caplan argues that "Leftist outrage over income inequality is therefore deeply misguided." Why? because when you think of low-income people as losers: "you’re falsely assuming that we’re all racing for the same finish line: material success."

Upwards redistribution: "People are inclined to give much more legitimacy to market outcomes than policy outcomes engineered by governments. That is why there is a whole industry devoted to convincing people that the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, which has given the bulk of economic gains to the One Percent, is really just the result of the natural workings of the market." Dean Baker, CEPR.

Peter Martin’s pursuit of power: Peter Martin discovers an Australian-style powerpoint in Argentina. Argentina is one of a handful of countries (including China) that use the same plug design as Australia.

7 thoughts on “Missing Link Friday – It’s back!

  1. I think that Jacob Weisberg is too cynical about the Republicans. He’s forgotten that they can use magic to balance the budget and that the obvious reason that magic hasn’t been working of late is because there are gays in the military whom God hates. God therefore has decided to stop the magic from working. So all the Republicans need to do is persecute a few gay people, especially those in the military, and God will allow the magic to work again and presto, the budget problem will be solved.

  2. Which Republican candidate is in ardent favour of the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, exactly?

    Having said that, I haven’t seen any sensible proposals for fixing the US economy from anyone in the 2012 Republican field.

  3. Oh and Greg Mankiw’s application of something like the EMH to people’s preferences for material wellbeing is patently horsesh*t. It fails the laugh test; if he was right, there wouldn’t be low-income people sweating it out, hoping to ‘make it’, and describing themselves as poor or at least wanting to be richer. It’s reminiscent of the RBC theory of the Depression (ie. everyone spontaneously deciding to grab some much needed R&R.)

  4. The problem with GST’s criticism of journalism is that he starts out talking about “journalism” but pretty quickly it’s apparent he is actually talking about “political journalism”. You wouldn’t find many practicing journalists outside of Canberra who will stick up for the state of political journalism in this country – its basically stuffed – but there’s a lot more to journalism than just politics.

    Conflating the two, as GST has done, is a pretty common error, possibly because so many of the people engaging in this kind of analysis are political junkies so that’s what they’re reading most.

  5. Caplan: To a large extent, incomes differ because priorities differ. And if the poor don’t consider their lack of riches a big deal, why should anyone else?

    I absolutely don’t buy this. It assumes perfect income mobility, ie. that I can choose my income, or at least greatly influence the outcome through life choices.

    However, we know that opportunity at birth is not equally distributed and also that social (and income) mobility is not frictionless – it’s more like moving through treacle to be born poor and die rich than saying “I like money, therefore I’ll make the appropriate choices to die rich”

    Rubbish. Caplan (and possibly Kahneman, I haven’t read the book) seem to be assuming their desired conclusion.

  6. JM: It’s actually I think an attempted (albeit ham-fisted) misdirect. ‘Don’t worry about redistribution, those poor people won’t like or appreciate it even if you are successful.’ Toxic stuff indeed.

  7. Incidentally, I don’t spend much time at all worrying about material success – and my plan is to continue to be well-off my entire life so that I never need to.

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