Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Paying politicians not to be corrupt

A very silly piece today by Sinclair Davidson - during day 2 of the apparent ban at Catallaxy Files on talking about the sacking of Alan Moran from the Institute of Public Affairs - about campaign finance. His contention is that public funding of politicians is a "great threat to democracy" because regulation to "protect" voters from political corruption ends up maintaining privileges of the elites.

Let us apply this same thinking to Professor Davidson's own employment, since politicians and economists are merely two similar aspects of public service. Why should the public fund his position at RMIT, or that of Steve Kates, subtly indoctrinating economics students into their worldview of classical economics? The "lurks and perks of office" - in this case being the inculcation of a generation of economists to applying neo-liberal ideology which eventually results in lower taxes for supporters of libertarianism and right-wing thought in general - should be enough to fund Davidson and Kates through private means. If Sinclair believes in this so much, he should donate his wages from his professorship back to the state as a matter of principle, and draw his wage from Bond University or some other private educational institution where he is not compromised by hypocrisy.

No, of course I am being equally silly. Prof Davidson provides a valuable service to his students and to the community at large (not sure about Kates; evidence of the quality of his written rhetoric suggests he would be a poor lecturer). Sinclair's work for RMIT University does not actually constitute straight indoctrination to the ideology of Mises or Rothbard, since students can presumably follow Keynesianism in his subjects and still pass if they show enough skill and knowledge. There would be checks and balances put in place by public-funded institutions to curb such subversion of his role.

Equally, politicians who are funded by the public are also bound by conventions and regulations from not being corrupt, or corrupting others, in the course of fulfilling their elected obligations. Adherence to those societal norms is the main thing separating humans from animals. The public pay politicians to be subservient to them. Davidson's wish is that the pollies would dance to the tunes of those private citizens who paid them - or, as is often the case in America, restrict entry to the ranks of elected politicians to those who can afford to tip in millions of their own dollars.

I am open to hearing arguments against the current actions by the Greens, Labor and the Liberals to shut out other minor parties. Abolition of public campaign finance, though, is yet another one of those completely unworkable and untenable IPA wishes which never survive any sort of scrutiny. The uselessness of their platform is why they will never gain much in the way of real power in this country, no matter which politician is in office. The more a politician tries to fly their thought balloons, the more air is let out of the wingnut zeppelin.


  1. You bring up an interesting point about what it must be like for economics students at RMIT - we need a "deep throat" to tell us what it's like to be a student of either of them if said student follows the economic mainstream and finds Keynesian policy pretty convincing. I can't imagine Kates in particular handling it well, but even Sinclair's approach I am curious about. Or do their reputations so precede them that no Keynesian inclined would ever chose to study there?

  2. It was just Davidson feeding the animals. Moran is'writing'.
    no standards except to ban free speech there.

  3. mOnty, do you have any formal economics training? Your comprehensive grasp of the subject matter is quite impressive.

  4. I did first year economics at Melbourne Uni, but failed half the subjects and transferred to journalism at RMIT. I spent most of the year at Melbourne arguing with lecturers and tutors about how the assumptions behind the models I was being taught were wrong and would lead to stupid outcomes. Economics was not for me, I was not able to suspend disbelief for long enough.

  5. Hey apparently you. Steve Gerard Jackson and I are haters as alleged by Davidson.
    He is such a sad case.
    He coiuld have been okay but chose laziness instead.