Jan 23, 2018

Razer: think tanks? More like stink tanks.

Ahh think tanks. The intellectual breadth they bring to public life is astounding! You've got your unvarnished neoliberalism over here, and then your compassionate neoliberalism over there. And ... well, that's about it actually.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

A panel by the influential Brookings Institution

If you and I ever meet, remind me to show you my inbox, ooh-er. It is not a beautiful place, nor is it, at first glance, special. Scroll through a day or two, however, and what you will see is a relief map of the West, with all its current malformations.

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8 thoughts on “Razer: think tanks? More like stink tanks.

  1. David Whittingham

    It’s the Brookings Institution, not Institute – easy enough to google. Only a minor matter but a distraction. David Whittingham.

  2. AR

    Far too kind MzRaz on TTTs (toxic thought tanks) but your phrase making pinged the fate of Labor under (sic!) bumBoil Shlernt – “gradualism itself gradually slows to inertia..“.
    Leave the deadheads to bury the, unfortunately not yet, dead.
    Vote Green.

  3. kyle Hargraves

    “You got your unvarnished neoliberalism and your compassionate neoliberalism. Both the “progressive” McKell paper and its “free market” IPA response are united in their basic understanding. They both say that everyday Australians need good wages to safeguard their prosperity — the IPA claims its difference by making stagnant wages move with some gini co-efficient magic.”

    A useful illustration of the Gini coefficient is to consider a Lorenz Curve for a given function. In the case of the Gini it is a number between zero and one; zero implying equality and 1 implying utter inequality. The coefficient for both Australia and the USA is 0.3 (to one decimal place); in other words : relative inequality. The coefficient is a measure of “what is”; it is not susceptible to movement other than by rather extreme government economic policy directed to either equality or inequality.

    > They both overlook the threat posed to prosperity by private household debt.

    on the contrary they both (implicitly) encourage it but what is overlooked is that the consumers are already, (by and large) maxed-out.

    ” Now, the newest thought it will indulge is that upheld by McKell: wages are quite low and we should encourage firms, those things that maintain themselves by producing profit, to do something about it.”

    Low-end wages & salaries are not so much low as static. Moreover, the workforce has never been more compliant or fearful of retrenchment or job-loss by any cause. Consider negative inflation as an illustration. In such an environment consumers would wait until prices had declined prior to purchasing – but such in itself is a (theoretical)
    never-ending spiral. Clearly Aggregate Demand would drop through the floor and the most avid supply-sider would not advocate such a state of affairs. Lastly, on the point, firms (via tax cuts or anything else) do not dig economies out of recessions or depressions. Only governments can do that. “Firms” did not “save the day” over 2007-8-9 when the remainder of the world dropped into recesson. Rudd, et all, albeit without a complete understanding of Keynesianism, prevented the recession

    “Think tanks, whether progressive or conservative, largely show no more evidence of intellectual strain than an email aggressor.”

    Such is the “hard way” to appraise think tanks. The easy way is to identify their creator(s) and their composition. Then one can predict with near-certainty as to what will be recommended (to the government?) in the next White paper or Black Paper or Purple Paper. The “trail” is near-identical from Muldoon in the latish 70s to where we are now.

    Of course it is important to provide the “think tank” with the status of a Priesthood (with the composition looking about right : see the photo suppled) but such is a mere detail.

  4. DF

    Your reference to von Mises reminded me of Buchanan, Friedman and the neo-liberal libertarians, as featured in Nancy MacLean’s excellent “Democracy in Chains”. Is it only me who suspects the IPA receives funding from the Koch brothers and their ilk, as do their ideological kin in the US?

  5. Scott Grant

    Talk about “think tanks” always reminds me of that wonderful book of essays written last century by the academic Alex Carey (father of Gabrielle), called “Taking the Risk Out Of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda in the US and Australia”, UNSW Press. I think he was the one who coined the term “treetops propaganda”, as distinct from “grassroots propaganda”. The raison d’être of think tanks is treetops propaganda. That is, to influence the opinions of the elites – politicians, journalists, high ranking public servants, business leaders, and so forth.

  6. [email protected]

    I’m reminded of a Michael Leunig cartoon from long ago. A bunch of guys in a think tank sitting around. All of them have thought bubbles of pictures of tanks and soldiers. They were thinking about military tanks.

  7. Wallywonga

    More like fattening tanks, where aspirational pollies go to complete their 101 in rehearsed lines/ political speak, ideological discipline(?).
    As part of the spread of the political industry, there is surely a direct correlation with this and the rapid growth of public cynicism.
    My favorite example, is the Menzies Research Centre, where young libs just go to complete their pompous ass apprenticeships.

  8. klewso

    “Think tanks – think socks.”

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