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John Quiggin

John Quiggin

He is an Australian economist, a Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a former member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government.

Articles by John Quiggin

Why we need an elected President

13 days ago

With the death of Queen Elizabeth, the issue of an Australian republic has naturally arisen. The immediately following question is whether we should support a ‘minimal’ republic, as similar as possible to our current system, or replace the Governor-General with an elected President.

The starting point for both monarchists and supporters of a minimal republic. is the claim that ‘the existing system has worked well’. This is incorrect in two crucial respects

First, the current system gives the Prime Minister too much power, and this power has been increasingly abused in Australia and other Westminster systems. The discovery that Scott Morrison had been secretly sworn in to five separate ministries showed that, if the Governor-General had any role beyond that of a rubber

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Monday Message Board

14 days ago

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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A bit of this, a bit of that: Stage 3 tax cuts, the Australian welfare state and Republican identity

17 days ago

I’ve been on holidays on the Sunshine Coast this week with my wife Nancy. I’d normally be racing in the SC 70.3 Ironman, but breaking my wrist a month ago put paid to any training (I’m recovering well, but slowly). We still had the accommodation booked, so we’re enjoying a relaxing time by the sea.

Before we took off, I submitted a bunch of articles that have now come out. I already posted my piece on the Ethereum merge so, rather than bombard you with emails, I thought I would wrap up the rest in one post. Here they are

Scrapping Stage 3 tax cuts is essential, but won’t be an easy ride, Independent Australia, 6 September.

“Republican” as an identity a Crooked Timber posts asking why supposed moderates like Susan Collins and Ross Douthat continue to support a Republican

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The Bitcoin Monster, updated

19 days ago

A little while ago, I wrote about the impending shift of the Ethereum cryptocurrency from “proof of work” to “proof of stake”, with an energy saving of 99 percent. I’ve now expanded that post into an article for The Conversation, which has just come out. Read and enjoy (or skip, if you’ve heard enough about crypto).
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Sandpit

20 days ago

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board

20 days ago

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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The end of the Bitcoin Monster?

26 days ago

For a few years now, I and others been banging on about the environmental cost of Bitcoin, and similar cryptocurrencies. This cost from the electricity wasted on the pointless calculations used to ‘mine’ Bitcoins, under the ‘proof of work’ protocol used to ensure the validity of entries in the Bitcoin blockchain. The cost is huge, about the same as the energy use of a medium size country.

For almost as long, we’ve been promised an alternative ‘proof of stake’, in which the integrity of the blockchain would be protected by participants putting up some of their cryptocurrency as a ‘stake’ (more details here). But like nuclear fusion, proof of stale always seemed just over the horizon.

Now, it seems, it may be going to happen. Bitcoin’s biggest rival, Ethereum, has been testing a

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Monday Message Board

28 days ago

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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All history is presentism

August 24, 2022

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece in defence of presentism, discovering just before I posted, that the same title had been used (also this year) by David Armitage, Professor of History at Harvard.

It was good to know that I wasn’t alone, but as Armitage made clear, “presentism” has been “a term of abuse conventionally deployed to describe an interpretation of history that is biased towards and coloured by present-day concerns, preoccupations and values”. A fairly standard version of the critique was given by Lynn Hunt, then President of the American Historical Association, in 2002 [1]

It seems however, that things are changing fast. A couple of weeks ago, James Sweet, Hunt’s successor as AHA President, wrote a more or less routine denunciation of presentism , which

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Monday Message Board

August 21, 2022

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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Monday Message Board

August 14, 2022

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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Sandpit

August 14, 2022

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board

August 8, 2022

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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Mental health and mental fitness

August 2, 2022

Until now, I’ve always thought about mental health as the absence of mental illness, much as I have typically thought about the absence of physical illness. In both cases, health is the default state or unmarked category.

But as I have gone through the Covid pandemic, and become more pessimistic about the state of the world, I have reached the view that a better analogy is with physical fitness. That is, something that requires sustained effort to achieve and maintain, and is rarely fully achieved.

In particular while I have previously thought about depression as a mental illness, it’s difficult now to distinguish it from ordinary sadness. My congenital optimism now seems more like delusion. Maintaining mental balance is now hard work.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the first to

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Sandpit

August 1, 2022

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board

August 1, 2022

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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Conferences, Covid, Climate

July 28, 2022

As borders reopen and Covid-related restrictions are relaxed, lots of academics are celebrating the return of in-person conferences. I’m not one of them. Although I miss a lot of aspects of conferences, I’ve tried to avoid indoor meetings since the pandemic began, and there’s no reason to change that yet. And with the climate disaster getting worse all the time, I want to minimise, or at least reduce, air travel.

Another problem is that it’s become much more difficult for researchers from Africa and Asia to get access to conferences held in Europe and North America. One possible response would be to move the conferences to more generally accessible locations, but there aren’t many without problems of some kind.

At least for the moment, the most compelling argument in support

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How did Sri Lanka run out of money?

July 27, 2022

5 graphs that explain its economic crisis

I’ve just written an “explainer” piece for The Conversation with my longstanding colleague co-author (and former PhD student) Thilak Mallawaarachchi, trying to make sense of the crisis in Sri Lanka. Thilak contributed his extensive knowledge of the Sri Lankan economy, while I focused on the specific role of a fixed exchange-rate regime.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis in modern history. Its 22 million strong population is struggling with huge price increases for food, power, medicines and other necessities. That’s if they can get them at all, with private motorists spending hours queuing for their fuel quota.

This is why Sri Lankans have been protesting on the streets and stormed the President’s House.

People in a

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The Kosovo precedent

July 22, 2022

In the early days of the Ukraine invasion, one of the main lines pushed by Putin’s defenders was that the expansion of NATO posed a threat to Russia and that Ukraine was about to join. This didn’t stand up to even momentary scrutiny. The Baltic States had been members since 2004 without doing anything to threaten Russia.

And while Ukraine’s constitution included a goal of joining NATO, Zelenskiy was describing this as a ‘remote dream’ even before the invasion took place, and clearly indicated willingness to abandon the idea in return for peace.

But there is an important sense in which NATO shares responsibility for this disaster. The US intervention in Kosovo, including the bombing of Belgrade, was undertaken by NATO, to avoid the need to get the support of the UN Security

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Britain: the new El Salvador?

July 19, 2022

When I first found out that the UK Treasury proposes to issue Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as part of a general push to make Britain a world centre for crypto-currency, I assumed that this was a Boris Johnson stunt. The obvious model is El Salvador, where Johnson-style demagogue Nayib Bukele has made Bitcoin legal tender, with results ranging from disappointing to disastrous depending on who you read.

It turns out, however, that the source of the push is Rishi Sunak, until recently Chancellor of the Exchequer and now the favourite to become Prime Minister when Johnson leaves office. I don’t know anything about Sunak, but assumed on the basis of his job title that he would be a believer in “sound money”, hostile to, or at least sceptical of dodgy innovations like crypto.

I’m not

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A Path to a 4-day week (with 8-hour days)

July 18, 2022

Suppose(!) an Oz government or IR tribunal, wanted to shift the standard working week to four eight-hour days.Here’s one possible path:

Reduce standard working week from 38 hours to 35, a demand of the trade union movement that’s been on the books for the last 50 years. With four weeks annual leave and 10 public holidays per year, that implies just over 1600 hours per year (excluding sick leave etc) 1/..

Now move to the four-day, 32 hour week, with the proviso that the full four days are worked in weeks with public holidays. That gives 1536 hours worked in a standard year 2/..

Now shift from four weeks annual leave to two, with the proviso that workers can put in up to eight 5-day weeks during the year and take the time off in an additional two-week block. That brings

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Sandpit

July 17, 2022

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Reaching for Utopia

July 17, 2022

Last week, I presented a webinar to the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders Uni. The slides are here – I’ll update when the video becomes available

Summary: From four-day weeks to unconditional basic income to free education, it’s possible to imagine a future where society’s focus has moved from consumption to quality of life.
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What I’ve been doing and saying

July 17, 2022

My latest Substack newsletter, a report on what I’ve been up to in June and early July. My biggest news is that I’ve decided to take a break from commenting on day-to-day politics. Even starting with low expectations, I’ve been deeply disappointed by the Albanese government. That feeling seems to be widely shared, especially as regards Covid and Climate. Perhaps the public response will turn things around, but I don’t have anything much to add beyond what I’ve said already.

Instead, I’m trying to think about longer term issues, making the case that we need a utopian vision as an alternative to the current dystopia.
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Monday Message Board

July 17, 2022

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.
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