Over the weekend a friend asked me whether I rated George Megalogenis, a former economics writer for The Australian, as a decent economic thinker. No way. That people with Megalogenis’s low level of economic thinking get respect as economic commentators should bother anyone who holds economics in high esteem. My criticism of Megalogenis applies equally across the political spectrum. Economic arrogance and stupidity is not confined to one politically oriented group.
For example, he supported the destructive carbon tax and the daft idea that it would compel businesses to “switch to cleaner energy sources.” The idea that the tax would instead force them out of business did not occur to him anymore than the idea that the tax would lead to the dissipation of capital. But Megalogenis was not alone in this lunacy. In 2008 the Centre for Independent Studies published a monograph by John Humphreys making the same utterly absurd claims. Since then Alan Moran, Judith Sloan, Steve Kates, Sinclair Davidson, et al., have piled it on the carbon tax and also the assertion that so-called “cleaner energy sources” can support the economy.
But the funny thing is that while these free market warriors sneer at the green fanatics refusal to consider alternative views they themselves never uttered a word of criticism of John Humphreys’ CIS paper—and that includes their media mates, particularly Andrew Bolt. Even now they adamantly refuse to even mention it by name. To this very day the Institute of Public Affairs makes a particular point of avoiding any reference to Humphreys’ paper.
The only reference to its existence was by Sinclair Davidson who had the gall to describe it as a “carefully narrowly construed argument”. Utter rubbish. According to Humphreys a carbon tax would have “little or no economic cost[!]” and that the tax was “necessary” in order to “[t]o combat man-made climate change.”
Perhaps under the influence of an illegal substance Humphreys even imagined that like manna from heaven new “energy sources” would flow from the effects of a carbon tax. In fact, John Humphreys appears to do a lot of imagining. In 2009 he even conjured up in his mind a situation where he could “imagine entire workplaces getting together and jointly agreeing” to help fund a scheme to fight what he calls “anthropogenic global warming”. Regardless of the deficiencies in Megalogenis’s economics he never sought to substitute fairy dust or imaginary situations for economic policies.
Then in 2011 Sinclair Davidson proudly announced on Catallaxy that “John Humphreys and Tim Andrews have set up a Stop Gillard’s Carbon Tax page.” Ain’t that just amazing. No apologies, no explanations, no nothing. Davidson and his pals just airbrushed John Humphreys sorry record on the carbon tax out of existence. No wonder they now refuse to even acknowledge the very existence of Humphreys’ shabby paper. When Tim Andrews was asked to explain why Humphreys was working with the Stop Gillard’s Carbon Tax organisation he was unable to give a coherent answer. Evidently bad economics and double-dealing are not the province of anyone political group.
Sinclair Davidson once sneered at George Megalogenis for making the silly statement that the Gillard government was allocating capital between labour and capital. But as we can see, Davidson is in no position to sneer at anyone. Sinclair Davidson and Julie Novak made gross errors in a piece they did regarding Australia and the Great Depression. They have stubbornly refused to acknowledge their errors. Those who do not have the moral courage to publicly defend what they write should at least have the decency to cease criticising others. And that goes double for Professor Sinclair Davidson.