RMIT economics professor Sinclair Davidson got his head on 7.30 the other night, attacking the government from the right on its debt levy.
SINCLAIR DAVIDSON, ECONOMICS PROF., RMIT: My view is very similar to Milton Friedman's dictum that there's nothing more permanent than a temporary government program. So I think this temporary program, this temporary tax is going to be with us for quite some time.The first thing that strikes me in what he says is that there is not much economics content, an affliction that also cruels the works of Henry Ergas in The Australian, a fellow Catallaxian. For a bunch of economists, the Australo-Austrian School, or whatever they call themselves, seem to spend a lot of time talking politics and not enough talking straight economics. Perhaps that is because, as Steve from Brisbane details, when their minds do turn to economics they struggle to mount a solid argument.
SINCLAIR DAVIDSON: Without a doubt in my mind whatsoever, this is a broken promise. Mr Abbott promised before the election, he gave absolute assurances, that the tax burden would be lower under a Coalition Government than it was under the Labor Government.
This is his moment that Ms Gillard had when she stared down the camera and said, "There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead." This is exactly what Mr Abbott is doing.
Ms Gillard never survived from that moment and I think Mr Abbott faces that same problem. Politically it is a disaster for him.
SINCLAIR DAVIDSON: Politicians, who are the people who got us into this budget problem in the first place, should have the kind of incentives to get us out of this problem.
And, for example, you could have a rule whereby while the budget is in deficit that their salaries get cut by 50 per cent and they remain at that level until the budget is back into surplus.
SABRA LANE: In this season of speculation, that's one idea that can safely be ruled out.
SARAH FERGUSON: Sabra Lane reporting.
Sinclair has been running a series of posts on Catallaxy Files running much the same line, similar to the series he ran after the carbon tax was introduced by Gillard Labor in July 2012 and drawing a direct connection between the two issues. If he wants kudos for messaging independence from the Liberal Party, here you go: let it be known that I have awarded you One Kudos Point.
Of course the game's made up and the points don't matter... the points are like Catallaxy Files itself. They talk a lot over there about useful idiots, a phrase popularised in wingnut circles by Ludwig von Mises to describe liberals who ran interference for Lenin and Stalin - but Sinclair is just as useful to Abbott right now as "proof" of the government's centrism. As long as we can still see the scary silhouettes of Davidson and Ergas through the Overton Window, it's in the right spot for a conservative party. Libertarians are the mystical boogeymen used by conservatives to scare liberals into compliance. Does Sinclair know that this is what he is doing on behalf of the centre right, or does he really believe in the extreme silliness he retails?
#auspol If Abbott was slashed by his own Gillard Moment "There will be no new taxes", who benefits most? The man who floated it, Joe HockeyIf this was Labor in government, the wolfpack in Canberra would already be barking for for a spill, Sky News and ABCNews24 would be on it round the clock with journo jerks circling each other for the scoop. But it's the Liberals, who get off scot free and leave Scott (Morrison) free to accumulate backroom numbers without significant scrutiny.
— Paul Sheehan (@Paul_Sheehan_) May 7, 2014
UPDATE: I note that Sheehan has deleted the above tweet implicating Hockey, but not the original one predicting that the debt levy would not proceed. Everyone else in the media is assuming it will go ahead.