New Troppo truthiness competition – find a column with more bollocks in it than Paul Sheehan’s latest

A Troppodillian referred me to this column by Paul Sheehan.

It is a very truthy column. Yea verily.

Your task, should you decide to accept it, is to point us to another column which is more misguided and ill-informed than it is. As you would know, the Troppo Mercedes Sports has been seized by underworld figures, but when it is returned, the winner will be flown to wherever it is found.

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Peter Whiteford
Peter Whiteford
10 years ago

Do we need to find a column in an Australian newspaper – or can we scour the world?

rog
rog
10 years ago

Well…the truth of the matter is that some of Sheehans stuff is wrong and some of it is less right..do you think he has eye problems, or maybe a headache? I recommend that he see an eye doctor and perhaps a neurologist. That should help with his vision.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

In the international category can I nominate this, by a long-standing contributor to different viewpoints of reality?

Richard Tsukamasa Green
Richard Tsukamasa Green(@richard-green)
10 years ago

Looking just at Sheehan columns, we have a rival in his spruiking of “miracle water“. At least when he was shamelessly shilling for Krispy Kreme there was no truthiness.

rog
rog
10 years ago

From the Indiana link is this

That churning uneasiness has been ramped up with the Internet.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
10 years ago

How about the veritasiness of Bob Ellis? Here’s a column to start with: Miracle manipulation.

swearyanthony
swearyanthony
10 years ago

I assume “anything by Tom Friedman or David Brooks” is ruled out for being too obvious an answer?

Having said that, even Friedman’s magical mystery cab driver would find Sheehan’s article to be a work of utter nonsense.

rog
rog
10 years ago

Mr Denmore says its simply all about making noise

People, apparently real people, make and lose money on trading markets in noise ie stock markets and their indices. It happens daily, hourly even and they trade in fractions as the mood shifts.

Anthony
Anthony
10 years ago

How funny; as I stepped out the door this morning clutching the SMH open at the opinions pages I wondered, “Is there a person so willing to write, & then agree to have published, whatever half-grasped concept based on tenuous evidence occurs to them than this Sheehan?”

Although, my thoughts probably weren’t that lucid.

Ms Divine can start off ok then veer tangentially to some alarmingly conclusions, but I can’t be bothered searching her archives.

Peter Whiteford
Peter Whiteford
10 years ago

I’m not sure whether this is truthy or not, but see :http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/its-all-hot-air-from-the-jetsetting-eco-brigade-20110530-1fcu1.html

I was delighted once to discover from one of Mr Henderson’s columns that I qualified as a demographic group (“sixty-something academic living in the inner city”)

rog
rog
10 years ago

Don’t forget “latte sipping”

Peter Whiteford
Peter Whiteford
10 years ago

I’m a flat white person myself – but I do take it skinny.

Alex
Alex
10 years ago

The New York Sun once ran a column written by a cockroach and subsequently rebrinted as a book ‘archy and mehitabel.’ It is a while ago and most of the observations are more coherent than Sheehan’s but one or two of the musings about mehitabel the cat might meet the requirements.

David Walker
David Walker(@d-w-griffiths)
10 years ago

I’ve seen much worse than Sheehan – including, in the past two minutes, the Bob Ellis column that Don linked to.

My bigger concern is that Sheehan’s column represents a very common form of columnising, in which the writer take the disaster of the day and recounts it in colorful and highly skewed way before explaining that it could all have been fixed if not for the stupidity, avarice and/or malice of the government/unions/greenies/business class.

My preferred competition would be to find an occasion (before last year) on which Paul Sheehan explained his belief that the European Union would eventually encounter fiscal problems due to its unsuitability as an optimal currency zone. That’s one of the two theories he’s expounding here, although he uses less technical language.

The other theory Sheehan’s expounding – that there’s a strong relationship between the size of the government sector and economic growth, and that Europe’s current troubles show this relationship will cause trouble for Australia – seems plain weird. Australia is one of the poster children for smart fiscal management right now.

Some will disagree with that last statement. Fair enough. One information-rich indicator in Sheenhan’s writing on this second point is that he doesn’t even hint that there’s room for disagreement on the issue.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, Shehan’s estimate of Australian public debt – “about 25 per cent of GDP” – is well off the mark according to this April data from the Parliamentary Library, which should not have changed dramatically in the past six months.

“General government (an aggregate of all levels of government: local, state and national) net and gross foreign debt currently stand at 7.7 and 10.1 per cent of GDP respectively.”

Can someone with more time pull the figures from the Budget papers or other strong source?

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

I’ll play for the other team then. As David W pointed out, there are a few mistakes, and the thing’s a bit confused and two ideas are overly conflated.

But, one of the problems in some of the countries in the Euro zone is the large share of GDP taken by the govt and the problems of bureaucracy, and the Euro is a big problem and is now quite arguably terminal. Some countries are doing fine on the 50% of GDP model and others are suffering so it is not a universal story. Still, it’s hardly howlerville. I’ve seen plenty of worse rubbish from either side.

“My preferred competition would be to find an occasion (before last year) on which Paul Sheehan explained his belief that the European Union would eventually encounter fiscal problems due to its unsuitability as an optimal currency zone. That’s one of the two theories he’s expounding here, although he uses less technical language.”

Ummm, that doesn’t make it wrong. That would just mean he didn’t realise the problem earlier, and who could blame him.
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/incestuous-amplification-european-style/

“The other theory Sheehan’s expounding – that there’s a strong relationship between the size of the government sector and economic growth, and that Europe’s current troubles show this relationship will cause trouble for Australia – seems plain weird. Australia is one of the poster children for smart fiscal management right now.”

Well, he was talking about a long run problem and it is not exactly a fringe view. Oh, and there is some evidence for it.
Here’s Krugman agreeing with you.
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/its-not-about-welfare-states/
But here’s the thing, the second criticism is really about the growth of bureaucracy and there is a story there.
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/10/why-is-italy-doing-so-much-worse-these-days.html Not everyone seems to be so good at the germanic welfare state, I guess cause not everyone is germanic.

rog
rog
10 years ago

Peter Hartcher has this thought bubble

Gillard’s personal approval rating has improved undeniably; she is no longer second to Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister; and Labor’s share of the two-party vote has held up at a level slightly higher than the party’s all-time low. Why?

Me me me sir!

Coz there is no election due for years, it’s only a poll?

David Walker
David Walker(@d-w-griffiths)
10 years ago

Pedro, I suspect our positions are pretty close on most of this (and for the record, my reading of the evidence is that there’s a weak but positive relationship between government revenue-to-GDP and growth).

But I particularly like your last line; it nicely captures the under-explored merits of economic policies that align with cultural inclinations and institutions.

Persse
Persse
10 years ago

Won’t try to find something more tendentious than this, it is indeed a true masterpiece of the genre. Every base covered. Straw men in flames everywhere, excellent stuff. Clearly the intellectual descendent of the medieval rhetoricians – with all that angels dancing on the head of pins thing- and all done with the simplest of tools; facts pulled out of the arse (factums?) and the rant.
If one was inclined to being a teensy weensy bit critical it may be a tad shouty – but other than that well done indeed!

Peter Whiteford
Peter Whiteford
10 years ago

In terms of rants, it is extremely difficult to beat Theodore Dalrymple on the recent disturbances in the home country – “In fact a great deal of English social life is now almost indistinguishable from murder.” http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2011/s3292495.htm

But Nick – does this qualify as a column?

rog
rog
10 years ago

Pedro has gone along with the meme expounded (or maybe just “pounded”) by Sheehan, that it is all about the evil of socialism and the welfare state. This is a fact free zone and disregards the failures of the EU, ECB and IMF to properly manage the Euro

an ill-designed single currency interacting with an insupportable burden of private debt created by oversized, undercapitalised banks.

If you must quote Krugman

the “technocrats” have consistently ignored their own economic models in favor of what amount to political prejudices, calling for fiscal austerity and higher interest rates when their own analyses say that unemployment will be high and inflation subdued.

This is a failure of neoliberalism, we are all Argentinians now.

JC
JC
10 years ago

1. Oh and what exactly would you expect of the ECB and the IMF to do to “properly manage the Euro”, Rog. Elaborate please.

2. How would Krugman suggest the Greeks say avoid austerity? Should they be borrowing at the 10 year Greek bond rate of 29% , or perhaps the 2 year rate of 109%. Who would lend them the money?

Austerity wasn’t an option for these wayward countries. It was forced on them by lenders refusing to reach into their pocket and hand over more money to fund deficits/bottomless pit of spending.

3

This is a failure of neoliberalism, we are all Argentinians now

What is that supposed to mean?

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

rog I’m not surprised about, but Nicholas, did you read what I wrote? It looks like we agree on everything except what degree of ear-boxing Sheehan deserves.

And I don’t find the nthrn E welfare states galling or inconsiderate. I’m not in favour of that level of govt for us, but that’s irrelevant to whether it works well in some places. Do you think greece would have avoided their problems by being further along the OECD chart? No, I didn’t think so.

Yobbo
Yobbo
10 years ago

This could also be a reason why southern Europe is fucked.

http://www.traditional-italy.co.uk/italian-siesta/#axzz1dimeTmWd

They are lazy morons.

rog
rog
10 years ago

Thats crap Yobbo, Italy has a productive economy.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

The kicker is that since Germany is introducing them to improve productivity(!), Yobbo is in the unenviable position of arguing that the Germans are “lazy morons”.

But he is part-troll, and trolls thrive on the fringes.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
10 years ago

I do think Beveridge or Temple would recognise the Welfare state in Northern Europe however I think they would argue early retirement from the public sector etc was not what they envisaged way back then.

rog it isn’t a failure of neo-liberalism but what Nick elucidated.

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

Within certain bounds, it’s quality of governance not size of government that is the issue. A bigger govt provides more loot when governance is poor. I don’t think anyone wants to pretend you can improve germany by substantially increasing the size of the govt.

Mel
Mel
10 years ago

I bought the Weekend Australian last weekend for the first time in two or three years and it was the same as always. One of the bland CIS trolls blamed all of Europe’s woes on the welfare state and the randy Catholic rabbit Angela Shenanigans babbled about how we need to become more like Americans. [violent suggestion edited out].

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

A) ‘It’ clearly is not about welfare states.
b) ‘It’ clearly is about Southern European states, which are also, all, welfare states.

Maybe there are relevant sub-categories of welfare states, and we should not be afraid to say that there are lots of good things about nordic (or for that matter Australian) welfare states. Nor should we be afraid to say that there are lots of (very) bad things about Southern European welfare states.

Rog, it is a very odd position to be in when you are calling the Europeans ‘neo-liberal’. I daresay they would disagree.

rog
rog
10 years ago

Quality of governance is critical. Ross Levine found that regulators were unduly influenced by the banks.

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

facts pulled out of the arse (factums?)

Like!

rog
rog
10 years ago

The IMF cops plenty of flak for its neoliberal policies particularly in light of the requirements of the Washington Consensus.

john
john
10 years ago

“facts pulled out of the arse ” are fundamental facts.

A Scandinavian model country , Norway, is ranked No1 in livability and the relatively ‘small government’ Australia is ranked (I think) at about two or three on the same index , what struck me about the figures was how little value these supposedly all important stats have as predicative indicators of anything much.
‘Economics’ (and related social theory) do not strike me as being anymore scientific than reading chicken fundamentals .

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

“facts pulled out of the arse ” are fundamental facts.

It needs a snappier name. Cracts, Sphacts?

john
john
10 years ago

Pedro – I like Sphacts!
Do you remember that wonderful episode of South Park when Mr Man introduced Paris Hilton to the ‘fundamental’, ie. shoved her up his arse!

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

how little value these supposedly all important stats have as predicative indicators of anything much.

erm, as predictors of a nice country? Low crime rates, high health, general pleasant demeanour?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

It’s so easy for that bloody Mr Spock to say, ‘Live long and prosper’, bt note that the slippery Vulcan never actually tells us how to do it.

Questions for Mr Spock:

-socialised or privatised health care?
-optimal relationship between government debt, output and volatility?
-the real frictional unemployment rate?

And I’ve got more, too.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
10 years ago

easy to see Dan you are a Spocktator

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

More of a Dune guy by way of Star Wars.

KB Keynes
KB Keynes
10 years ago

You still have Miles Teg go

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Peter@22, Nicholas@31 – here’s the column version of Dalrymple being truthy:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/5_4_oh_to_be.html

Sent from one tattooed postgraduate student/young professional who’s never been in any trouble to another another tattooed postgraduate student/young professional who’s never been in any trouble.

rog
rog
10 years ago

In my day it was ‘shows us yer tits’

Now its tit for tat.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Only when I am very lucky.

Mr Denmore
Mr Denmore
10 years ago

Who was silly enough to lend the Greeks and Italians the money?

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/image0012.jpg

john
john
10 years ago

willful @ 40… I was referring to the kind of figures that Sheehan was referring to. Obviously A index of Lawfulness , general politeness, and kindness would be a good predictive indicator, lest I hope it would be.

Peter Whiteford
Peter Whiteford
10 years ago

Consider this an entry in the international truthiness search:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2024690/UK-riots-2011-Britains-liberal-intelligentsia-smashed-virtually-social-value.html\

“The causes of this sickness are many and complex. But three things can be said with certainty: every one of them is the fault of the liberal intelligentsia; every one of them was instituted or exacerbated by the Labour government; and at the very heart of these problems lies the breakdown of the family.”

Actually between 1979 and 1995 the number of lone parents in the UK increased from 11.6% of all families with children to 23% and by 2007 had increased to 26%.