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Comment Re:Austerity fails again (Score 1) 1307 1307

The Guardian link doesn't provide much on the way of answers to anything; a little economic narrative strung together by a lot of snide name-calling. When the article starts off with stuff like "elites all across the western world were gripped by austerity fever, a strange malady that combined extravagant fear with blithe optimism", you know you're not going to be getting an objective analysis.

It doesn't mention the relative size of the Greek bureaucracy - it certainly doesn't outline any alternative path Greece may have chosen.

Fundamentally, Greece was always going to fail, no matter what happened. It's economy isn't depressed because it just happens to be in the "bust" of a boom-bust cycle - it's been driven into the ground by entrenched, endemic over-spending. Throw all the money you want at it, it's not going to recover until the systemic issues have been addressed.

Even Keynesians agree that you can't keep spending into deficit eternally - at some point, you have to reduce debt, even if its just so you have some credit left for the next down-turn. Sure you can run deficits during the lean years, but during the good years, you need to reign it in. Incidentally, this is the problem we have in Australia - unlike the rest of the world, we've been booming economically, thanks to our mining and China's consumption. But the politicians have kept running deficit budgets, because spending money wins votes, and "austerity" (that is, stopping the bread and circuses) doesn't.

Keynesians stimulus is supposed to be a short-run thing to counter the natural economic cycles of a healthy economy - a one-time shot-in-the-arm to get the economy back up and running quicker than it would otherwise. If the economy wouldn't naturally recover, throwing more money at it isn't going to help. Greece has to reform it's public spending, or it will crash - either by running out of money, if it stays in the Eurozone, or reverting to the drachma, and continually devaluing it to service its debts.

Remember, not all public servants are equal. Privatization will cut the count of "public servants", but can actually increase the cost of the service for a net loss to the economy.

What unique services was Greece's government offering that justified a 700% greater headcount that comparable countries? They could cut half positions without removing services, and they'd still have services staffed by three times as many people as we have here (although I realise privatisation of some services was a requirement of the IMF).

Comment Re:Austerity fails again (Score 1) 1307 1307

Your paper has no relevance to "austerity" policies. It addresses the question of whether economies with large public debt can still significantly grow their GDP; it has nothing to say on whether reducing government employees' bonuses, or increasing retirement ages is economically a good or bad idea.

Even calling the measures Greece has agreed to "austerity" is ridiculous; Greece has an insanely large/expensive bureaucracy. Even with these adjustments, it's still much bigger and more expensive (proportionately) than that of other countries. For example, Australia (where I live) has 150,000 public servants, out of a population of 23 million (0.6%). The US has (according to Wikipedia) around 3 million civil servants out of a population of 310 million (0.1%). Before the cuts, Greece had a public service of 700,000, out of a population of 11 million (6%) - 10 times as many as Australia, proportionately. Even after the cuts, they're down to 500,000 (4.5%). Dropping the size of their bureaucracy to a mere seven times larger than other developed countries is hardly "austere".

Comment Re:Not for animals or locations (Score 1) 186 186

If we only ever heard about the H1N1 flu subtype, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, much of the public would be unaware of the threat that each could pose

What was the common name for severe acute respiratory syndrome? I only heard it as SARS, and people seemed to get worked up about that just as easily as they did about mad cow disease, or avian flu. There was a water contamination scare around here a few years ago, and cryptosporidium and giardia became household terms for quite a while.

I don't think it's so much the naming as it is the reporting around it. If the media repeats it enough, people will remember the term, even if it is outlandish. The main problem, I think, would be that there's probably dozens of diseases that cause "severe acute respiratory" problems. Naming diseases after prominent symptoms is likely to lead to lots of confusion, as many diseases have very similar symptoms.

Comment Re:Mandatory doesn't sound all bad to me (Score 2) 1089 1089

In Australia, we have mandatory voting. It only contributes to inertia.

Reason being, is people who are not interested in politics will take the minimal effort required to discharge their obligation - which generally means voting for a major party, who've had enough money to finance yapping at them from the television for the month prior.

If you want to adopt an electoral change that would empower third parties, go for preferential voting.

Comment Re:What a reason to sue (Score 1) 148 148

It's not really about what you or I would think or do - it's what people in aggregate do. If there's an artificial limitation in the legitimate supply of goods, people will find illegitimate ways to acquire them.

Think alcohol during prohibition. Marijuana (in most places) now. Western goods in communist Russia. And yeah, media where rights holder's are playing silly buggers. To appropriate a quote from your reference's prequel, "life finds a way".

If you're trying to manipulate people's behaviour by controlling what they are or are not allowed to buy, be prepared to fail.

Comment Re:What a reason to sue (Score 2) 148 148

Or, you know, pirate it. Which is generally the same response to the movie studies pulling their dick move. Artificially limiting supply creates a black market. I don't know if her move helped the book's position on the Times, but I guarantee it drastically increased the motivation to pirate.

Comment Re:What a reason to sue (Score 1, Interesting) 148 148

She deliberately delayed the release of the electronic version, because she was trying to rig the Times Best Seller List (apparently, the Times only counted dead-tree book sales at the time, so she didn't release the e-book version to try and force fans to buy dead-tree, so the purchases would help propel it up the list)

Comment Re:Thanks Obama (Score 1) 223 223

It's called civilization. If I want to masturbate in public, or kill people, or be a pedophile, or be a cannibal. Or steal from my neighbors and sell their stuff on ebay, or force my neighbor's wife to have sex with me. I'm not allowed to do those things

Unless you're the government. Then you're allowed to kill people and steal their stuff at will. One rule for the ruled...

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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