A couple more links on our friends across the Tasman

Crikey outlines how much more engagement there is in political campaigning over there.

And Tim Colebatch says some things that are similar to my own thoughts about the upshot of the NZ elections – namely that the power of incumbency combined with the power of being seen to work constructively on the problems of the nation can overcome the power of dog whistling to our darker side and of irresponsible promises by an Opposition.

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John Humphreys
John Humphreys
2024 years ago

Tax cuts might not be foolproof politics, but it is still good policy.

Colebatch shows his left-wing bias quite openly. I’m all for press freedom, and have no problem with blatent bias in newspapers. The thing I find strange is that some people try to deny that the bias exists.

If it is not bias, then how else can you explain Colebatch’s weird implication that only the government can provide services? He seems to suggest that if you support private provision then you really support no provision. I hope it is bias — because the only other option is cronic stupidity.

Another example is his attempt to contrast a smaller government with a more educated society.

Also — if you want to take one lesson away from any election, let it be this: that you get to vote once every three years for a bundled policy set that may or may not be implemented anyway and your vote probably won’t make a difference.

Compare that to the power you have to influence people in a free market.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2024 years ago

But waht if you combine the power of incumbency with dog whistling? It worked for John Howard.

Nicholas Gruen
2024 years ago

Yes indeed Ken. Then it works.

Nicholas Gruen
2024 years ago


I’m really struggling to understand your point. If you want to get your rocks off and give us the benefit of your own bias, then that’s fine. But you tell us that Colebatch has a left-wing bias. Now I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that. I’m sure he has got the biases of his own perspective – as do we all. But the point of discussion is surely to engage with what the person you are critiquing has said.

You say this: “If it is not bias, then how else can you explain Colebatch’s weird implication that only the government can provide services? He seems to suggest that if you support private provision then you really support no provision. I hope it is bias — because the only other option is cronic stupidity.”

This is what Colebatch writes. “compared with the benefits from investing more to give Australians the skills and education they and we will need to make it in the world, tax cuts funded by governments doing fewer good things would be a backwards step into the past.”

This is how I read his claim.

IF the government spends less on skill development (and hands the proceeds back as tax cuts) THEN less will be spend on skill development (because a good deal of the tax cut will be spent on other things). Incontroverable I’d say – whether (like Adam Smith) you want the state spending on education or you don’t.

FURTHER this “would be a backwards step into the past”. That last bit is a bit of rhetoric I guess – and a value judgement, and bit of positive economics suggesting that less total spending on education will reduce economic output in the future.

It doesn’t strike me as stupid or even particularly left wing. I think what you mean is that his values are not to your taste.

John Humphreys
John Humphreys
2024 years ago

The relevant quote was not the one you gave… but “Tax cuts funded by cutting services would not only damage investment in the future…”

I argue for tax cuts, funding by spending cuts. I want to see more services and more investment. I argue for less governmet funding for education, but I want more to be spent on education.

Apparently, according to Colebatch, I don’t exist. Damn. My parents will be disapointed.

It is either wilful ignorance of liberal thought or intentional bias to flavour the debate with the idea that only government can provide services.

Indeed, without government (and the consequent DWL, admin costs etc), more goods and services would be provided. The obvious counter-point is that perhaps the wrong goods ands services would be provided… or to the wrong people. That’s a fine argument. But it is possible to make that argument without pretending that the government is the only service-provider.

David Tiley
2024 years ago

There’s a difference between bias and perspective.

When John says that Colebatch’s position is “weird”, particularly when John is interpreting an implication which he thinks Tim is making, that is bias.

When Tim condenses a position down to a few remarks as part of a conclusion to a piece, and leaves out the intervening bits, that is perspective. He is showing us he is deploying an argument which contains many other elements, including elaborate discussions about whether private enterprise services are necessarily more efficient or more comprehensive than public.

Like John, I am trying to use a small example to make sense of a larger trend. Why do I like Nick’s op-ed pieces, and loathe Andrew Bolt?

Andrew is biased, Nick has a perspective. John spins the discussion into the emotive and personal – fine on a blog and part of the fun – but in a newspaper the effect is cumulatively deadening and ultimately repulsive.

John Humphreys
John Humphreys
2024 years ago

David, you claim that Tim’s conclusion justifiably left out the intervening bits of his argument. Unfortunately, his entire argument left out the true position of those people he was disagreeing with.

It is bias to assume that the real position of your opponent doesn’t exist and instead attribute to them a far weaker position and then call it wrong.

That is what Colebatch did. If you think that is appropriate then I don’t see on what basis I could progress a reasonable debate with you. You can simply tell me that I hate all blacks, women, gays and jews, say I’m wrong and win the debate.

The implication from Colebatch (which was quite clear) that only the government can provide services is indeed weird. To say that it is biased of me to call it weird is to imply that it is not weird… which implies that you have some sympathy with the idea.

So lets clear this up — do you or do you not think that it is possible for a non-government entity to provide goods and services? I would suggest that the answer is obvious.

Then, somehow, you accuse me of bias. My only claims have been:

1) Colebatch was biased; and
2) The non-government sector can provide goods and services

Both are demonstratably true. So where is my bias?

You then accuse me of being emotive and personal. Except to the degree that I am talkng about a person — how so? I have appealed only to logic, not emotion. And I haven’t said anything bad about Colebatch other than pointing out that he is biased.

2024 years ago

hola soy celeste