Small market has its effect
Malcolm Turnbull is now running for re-election on a “plan”. What plan? It’s not a plan. Just a gimmick, a simplistic one-shot tactic. Reduce corporate tax and growth will ensue, jobs will be created, prosperity will spread, downwards. Mike Seccombe exposes the falsity of this nostrum, the Laffer delusion (“Reagan ‘voodoo’ at the budget’s heart”, May 7-13). It works nowhere, and least of all can it work in and for Australia. Our business elite like to call themselves entrepreneurs, but they lack the spirit of entrepreneurialism. They want government to provide them with unnatural stability and “sure things” before they will “have a go” and risk anything much. And possibly they shun risk for good reason. They operate in a small and internationally weak domestic market, on ground that is a poor platform for seeking global achievement and making your mark worldwide. So I do not condemn our business classes for their lack of adventurousness. I simply point to this fact and its basis. They are being rational. But acknowledgement of this key fact, upon which our business elite operates and by which it is tightly constrained, simply exposes and condemns as wish-fulfilment (or as “aspirational” in the pejorative sense of the term) Malcolm Turnbull’s strategy for Australia for which he and his party are now seeking a popular mandate. That is why so much of his “pitch” (the entire “agile and exciting” mantra) so often comes across as waffle. It’s a gossamer of fantasy that a case built on good hard facts will knock down.
– Clive Kessler, Randwick, NSW
Laffer curve given a serve
Not only was I impressed with your front-page lead (as well as the rest of your excellent edition) but my brother, who is not an economist, told me that it explained “trickle-down” economics to him clearly and concisely. This is justification enough for such a well-written article on such an insidious myth. Mike Seccombe exposes the Laffer curve theory for what it is: a total fantasy on the part of conservative economists and wishful thinking from some politicians. Thomas Piketty has written the definitive book that debunks all of the “voodoo” in Laffer’s curve. As David Autor and Kenneth Judd pointed out, in 2012, there is no evidence to support the Laffer theory. It is a hypothetical idea that can only work if the tax rate is above 70 per cent. The theory itself clearly states that entrepreneurs act from motives such as fame, the thrill of success and respect from peers far more than from monetary considerations.
– Greg McKenzie, Chatswood, NSW
Staying real on economics prize
Mike Seccombe’s article on neoliberal economics is correct in every regard − except for one. There is no such thing as the Nobel prize in economics. The will of Alfred Nobel established Nobel prizes for chemistry, literature, peace, physics, and physiology or medicine in 1895 and the first awards were made in 1901. There was no provision for the addition of prizes in other fields. The supposed Nobel prize in economics was established in 1968 by the central bank of Sweden, ostensibly to celebrate its 300th anniversary but in truth to promote the banking sector and to give much-needed credibility to free-market economics. Its correct name is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It is not a real Nobel prize. It is a public relations exercise few accept as bona fide. Members of the Nobel family and of the selection committee have repeatedly requested it not be associated with the real Nobel prizes, and many winners of the genuine article have said the awarding of the economics prize debases their achievements. Let’s acknowledge what this prize really is: an attempt by the banking sector to promote its own ends. And let’s stop giving it a profile and a credibility it does not deserve.
– Paul Boon, Bentleigh, Vic
Abbott phones a friend
Tony Abbott’s acknowledgement of advice given by Bill Heffernan not to accept the $5000 bribe from an “expectant donor” should not have been a testament to Bill Heffernan’s honesty but a big question mark on Abbott having to ask for advice in giving back the cash (Karen Middleton, “Turnbull grab bag to prime election”, May 7-13). Clearly not knowing right from wrong has plagued him since entering politics.
– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic
What about the scholarship?
So Tony Abbott when handed an envelope with $5000 cash from a “well-known millionaire” quite properly, on advice from Bill Heffernan, “gave it back”. One wonders, however, what he did with the $60,000 – a so-called “chairman’s scholarship” unadvertised, unprecedented and unrepeated for his daughter from the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
– Joan Croll, Drummoyne, NSW
Craven treatment of sentence
As with letters to this newspaper, sentences should not exceed 150 words. You’d think a literary critic as esteemed as Peter Craven would know the benefit of brevity, and yet the second sentence of his review of MTC’s Miss Julie runs to a stupefying 153 words (“Shot August night”, May 7-13). It’s like the “mad old woman” Craven writes about (apropos a different play), careening in all directions from clause to clause until a full stop shows up out of nowhere to herald a merciful death. Craven – and his editor – would have done well to heed Diderot: “Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.” If Strindberg, a deeply unpleasant character by all accounts, knew anything, it was that a sentence that tries to do everything can in the end do nothing – except exasperate.
– Ben Brooker, Unley, SA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 14, 2016. Subscribe here.