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Remembering a friend today

Today is my light blog day (Wednesday) and it will be even lighter as a result of commitments I had today. Earlier, I attended a funeral for a great person – Tuấn Nguyễn Văn – who died last week in his home of Auckland. He is known to many Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) people for his relentless pursuit of politicians who continually do not tell the people the truth about the policy options, and, instead, impose material costs on the least-able to defend themselves against unemployment, low pay, precarious work, cuts in public services, degraded infrastructure and more. He was a really nice person and I am so glad I was able to meet him personally earlier in the year. So I decided not to write anything more than that today by way of blog post writing and took the time attending his funeral to reflect a bit on lost souls who were valued and precious. Some appropriate music follows.

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Somewhat of a Marxist

The Northern Territory government is proposing to split the state monopoly Power and Water utility, which provides electricity and water services to the Territory, into three separate entities: power generation; power distribution (retail); and water provision. The power generator would sell electricity to the retail division but also would sell to any private retailers who wished to enter the system on a competitive basis. While the politics of the matter do not interest me, the main claims are the usual ones that are wheeled out by proponents of privatisation – better deal for consumers because efficiency rises. The rival view is that the split up is the precursor to privatisation, which has demonstrably been shown by 30 years of evidence to not improve service delivery, employment, or result in lower prices. As an economist who has done work in this area since the mid-1980s, I was asked by the NT News (a daily newspaper) to comment on the proposal. The story appears in that newspaper on Tuesday, February 17, 2014. What followed was an attack (under privilege) on me from the NT Treasurer, who mislead the NT Parliament by making things up about me. This blog briefly clarifies what the truth is.

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Getting out of here!

What is happening today? I am off to Europe next week for my annual inspection of how successful fiscal austerity has been (not!). I actually have some work to attend to. I will report on that in due course. I was due to fly to Sydney late Sunday but I changed my plans and decided to fly today, which also explains why my normal blog today is very short. What motivated that?

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There is no financial crisis so deep that cannot be dealt with by public spending – still!

Today’s blog was a little later than usual for various reasons – travel, time differences and other activities that had to take precedence. The title comes from a paper I wrote in 2008 which was published last year and reflects the notion that fiscal policy – appropriately applied can always make a difference for the better. I have noted some scepticism about this proposition and claims that the situation in countries such as Iceland refute the confidence I have in the effectiveness of fiscal policy. My response is that these claims misconstrue my statement and like a lot of criticisms of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) they choose to set up stylisations that are not those advanced by the leading writers of MMT. So I thought I would just reflect a bit on that today.

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Aah the joys of the ocean early in the morning when the surf is big. Huge wave faces to rip after a steep drop on takeoff. Big waves breaking onto a sharp reef not that far below the surface. The thrill of it all. A great way to start the day before work.

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Digressions on IR laws and our freedoms

Two stories today make you wonder about the direction of our Australian government. The first relates to the changes to the industrial laws that the Greens finally were able to push through the Senate last night and the second relates to the threat of mass censorship using lists that are seemingly highly flawed.

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