Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Random Rantings

Posted by Simon Halliday | Monday, January 23, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

Hey guys, I wrote this thing below while I was on holiday in Plett. Bit of a rant I know, but hey why not give it a read.


A Clash of Ideological Perspectives

The West, as it is regarded in modern economic and political ideology, inherently bases most of its policy in both political and economic terms in liberal and neo-classical ideologies. What this means is that they believe in Free Trade, in the efficiency of the market structure without interference from government, on the liberty of the individual in the face of constraints by international and national political will and the ability of individual markets to become more efficient than others inevitably resulting in lower prices and greater employment if there is great competition.

As this ideology is promoted throughout the world by the US and most of the EU we must then believe that they want to affirm this process as the ‘right’ and morally correct pursuit for most of humanity. Thus they wish to propose to most of the developing world that their liberal and neo-classical policies are the policies that they should be adopting in order to improve their economies. Thus membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), or getting access to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is inherently dependent on the implementation of policies that reflect these Western ideological structures.

In the developing world it is thus necessary for us to exercise fiscal restraint: running low budget deficits and paying off both public and foreign debt (even though increased spending could help in the long run), additionally there are demands placed upon us to control inflation and not enter into employment-targeted economic policies (even though various UN bodies have actually suggested more employment-oriented policies than have previously been pursued in countries such as South Africa (UNDP, 2005)). Furthermore, there are heightened demands for access to developing markets, the lowering of tariffs, the decrease of subsidies and the increase of competition – all in the name of increased competition and enhanced international trade efficiency. These are both worthy pursuits.

However, the problem lies in the internal politics of the countries prescribing such policies. They demand that the developing world implement these policies, but they have massive subsidies and high tariffs which prevent the access of the developing world to their markets. For example, as the BBC reported (BBC, 2003), the subsidies in the EU and the US are often as much as $2 per cow – contrasting this with the millions of people throughout Africa and the rest of the developing world that survive on less than a dollar a day this subsidization policy becomes highly immoral.[1] In addition to this it is highly hypocritical – the West prescribes to the developing world that they should have accessible markets for the developed world in order to increase the efficiency of their domestic markets and compete efficiently. But, as soon as it comes to increasing efficiency and decreasing prices in their own markets, they refuse to pursue the policies they prescribe in their domestic environments.

This is easily enough excused on behalf of political realism and interest group economics – the farmers make money enough to ensure that their politicians are in power and that they won’t change policy such that they are damaged. The problem though is that they are damaging international relations because of their hypocrisy. As much as Thabo Mbeki is tarnished by his doublespeak on HIV/AIDS, George W Bush, Robert Zoellick, Pascal Lamy and co should also be found guilty of the same sin – they do not live up to the ideologies that they so viciously tout as the would-be saviours of the world economy. The only way that the developing world is possibly going to decrease their tariffs, their subsidies and increase the access to their markets is if the developed world does the same.

As much as China and much of the developing world currently have lower labour prices than the US and the EU, in the long run their economies will become more highly skilled as education programmes take effect, and as such individuals will demand higher wages. The long-run, that mechanism so enigmatic to economists, is the ultimate throwback for the developing world. If the G8 wish to prescribe labor conditions, environmental policy and a general ideological approach to politics and economics, then they are going to have to up their own ante. Such changes do not come in a costless manner. As a result of increases in efficiency the unemployment in the west may increase, as they are not as efficient and do not have as low a cost of labour as the developing world. Nevertheless, as already stated, in the long-run all’s well that end’s well, we’ll have a world in which liberal and neo-classical values are the prevailing force and the shadows of communism and fascism are but distant memories. So long to Marx, yay for Smith.

[1] Note that I am not requesting the Western World to all become moral vegetarians, rather that they should review their subsidy policy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Echoes of my Voice

Posted by Simon Halliday | Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

Some more recent poetry. Who knows what it may mean, don't take it too seriously.

Noah's Son1 13.01.06

It had been a hard night's work, as hard as rain-drenched hair against

the scalp as we watched water rising around us, and harder still than

watching the fires and idols and feeling the doubt that surrounded us

as we worked. It would have been easier had we worked with light

but the clouds had made that more than a polite request to God

so we laid it to rest in search of things of greater levity for Him that

would bind us all the closer before rest, before light could come to

us and, before anything else, the rain would teach us, my father, us

a smattering of humility. Not that we were arrogant, but we felt

vindicated as the waters rose around us, while animals screeched

in consternation at the rocking of the floors beneath them. They felt

it more for the dissolution of their packs, or a herd no longer formed

and we felt that too, seeing the hordes of men and women calling

to us in vain attempts at gaining father's mercy, he who they had scorned,

insulted and sabotaged in spite. And, in their faithlessness, they suffered.

The consequences all the more confusing because of the doubt their:

inability to understand why any god, our God would do this, and

in support of them I suggest a moment in which I felt the same

Why God? Why should we all suffer these deaths? Why this incessant

rain that bruises my skin, makes my wife cry with fear and longing for

warmth? Why? But that was not for us to know. Punishment or

education, or maybe some Diving cleansing, the reasons were not

and can never be for us to know. I cannot tell you how the sight of

and olive branch could ever be so potent as to restore my damaged faith.

Voyeurism 13.01.06

You giggle as the

staffie toddles along

on legs to slender

to carry its bulk

you say that he’s a bit stocky

or you look at the

Jack Russell all nose-twitching

alert and scurrying from your

hand back to known ankles

but it makes you just slightly sad

that you are so ‘global’

moving to and fro and

unable to own a dog

instead you caress my cheek

stroke my hair and

tell me you love me

I am here and you have briefly

returned to me

and, sadly for me, like

the animals I cannot

go with you



I move from

a slender hand

script in its descent

onto the page lonely as

it once was, pointed

as it now tries

to be

the petals

falling from

the flowers of the

magnolia tree cutting

through the air beneath

them and through

separateness of

you and him:

time – you

and me

Parted 15.01.06

I know that I am difficult

that my seriousness is

oppressive on this joy

you so immediately feel

but it is difficult to contain

my envy of something I have

been unable to achieve:

this happiness in you

brought on by the appearance

of one entirely unknown to me

friends across the sea mean

more than my parochial simplicity

Undesired 15.01.06

it is in the ways you

neither look at me

nor touch me, in the

way in which certain

conversations are


leaves rubbed off

on a welcome mat

yet still you make

attempts at affection

as though duty-bound

and god how I never

wanted to be a duty

ironing shirts and sweeping

already clean floors

and my voices clamour

in my head: dejected,

frustrated and craving

your desire

Delect 16.01.06

I search for oblivion

in the tragedy of


oblivion: time

without thought

action or emotion

the melancholy does

not have direction

it takes me neither

up nor down

it is not a heavy

heart but a bursting

of the blood vessels

that carried my life

in seeing red, in seeing

the dripping of my life

from the eaves of what

was my context

from there is birthed

my taste of oblivion

and how I wish that

it would last

1Noah had three sons, Canaan, Shem and Japheth, which one this may be is up to you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Category: | 0 comments

So... a couple of things have been going down as some of you may know and others may not.

Firstly, and most importantly, the name of my blog has changed. Ha, here you all thought that it would be something profound and drastic. No such thing. Amanuensis – Latin basis of a manus ensis (if I remember correctly), one who copies or writes from dictation. This is meant to be in some ways a parody of 'thought'. The reason being that thought is so often the amalgamation of much that one has discussed, read or experienced. In which case writing may be simply following the dictates of things that have already occurred, rather than actually being an original experience in and of itself. Hence, memory dictates to writing. Thus, I thought a name change could be interesting and funny. Ha ha...

Ok, secondly, now back to reality. For those of you who are unaware of it, but check this blog, I am dating Laura Armstrong. I have been for just under two months (this coming Monday it's two months actually). However, it has recently been decided that she is to return to New Zealand some time in June/July. Sad as that is, she loves that country, specifically she loves the city of Wellington and I know she will be happy there. Anyway, who knows where the wind will blow her and I up until that point, but there are so many possibilities (as is inevitably the case – truism).

For those of you who don't know, I am also currently working on my master's dissertation. Briefly, the research is focused on the role of genetic relatedness as a determinant of altruistic behaviour in the household. Yes, I understand that many of you may think that that has nothing to do with 'Economics'. However, I dissent (quite obviously else I would not be researching it). The main reason for my dissent is because of the necessity for a greater economic understanding of financial altruism in the household – as soon as we introduce money it becomes an economic problem. Moreover, altruistic behaviour has an inherent relationship with the role of incentives to act in the household. The intuitive hypothesis is that the likelihood of behaving altruistically should be positively and directly related to genetic relatedness, i.e. the closer that I am to the head of a household, the more likely I am to help that household in an emergency. However, my preliminary research shows that this isn't actually the case. For men genetic relatedness seems to have a negative effect, for women it doesn't actually do anything. All is not lost though for gene-altruism. There could be other things in the mix, which I am not going to bore you with, but which I am hopefully going to be exploring in my dissertation. Yay!

On the work front, it looks as though I may just be doing some research into the AIDS program run by the Anglican Church in South Africa. This depends on whether the tender that my supervisor has put forward is accepted by said Church. So I am holding thumbs – it pays better than tutoring, and it is one of the other major fields in which I am interested, i.e. policy effectiveness of AIDS programs. Uhuh, that's cool, you know it. Gnarly...

What else have I been thinking about... Hmm... Thabo Mbeki and succession in South Africa. Which party is it 'better' or more ethical for me to vote for in the regional elections, the ANC or ID? For those of you who were hoping, it's not about to be either the DA or the PAC, DA stands for Dodgy Assholes (not really I just don't trust Tony Leon) and the PAC is just waaay to Africanist (notwithstanding the lucidity of the writing of their secretary general). Next thing, NEPAD and the Peer Review Mechanism (PRM) can they work? I remain doubtful for several reasons, which you can ask me about whenever. Something else I have been wondering about is what I would call the hypothesis of mechanism neutrality – basically some people have argued that if there is a mechanism which people can learn and use in order to make money (i.e. capitalism) then the eventual ends of that mechanism (such as gross inequality) are justifiable and morally acceptable (don't get all nihilistic on me please). The problem for me with this is rather like the lack of neutrality of the IQ test – it is culturally biased, moreover education and ability to learn something play a role. Thus, extrapolating the argument just a bit, it is morally justifiable for someone with greater strength/intellect to do what they want as long as they are using a supposedly neutral mechanism. Dodgy! It makes big people beating up little people morally justifiable (I know that's hyperbolic, but hey, give me a break, hee hee...).

Ok, that's about it for now. If you have the time, have a look at some of my poetry below, if you'd don't then ROCK ON! Have a jol and don't get too caught up in reality.


Recent Dictates

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 0 comments

Circular 22.11.05

The logic that pulls

me back -

I am unable to

find that point

of beginning.

There is no start

to the road of

my love for you: and

walking it

takes me past places

seen and re-seen

until I have passed

beyond memory and

we are all-at-once

newborn but unbegun.

Context 24.11.05

This is my reliquary for

every heart that I have

taken. Each placed in their

box and held tight in time

awaiting my awakening.

I have caressed them

to their individual slumbers

as a penitence for the actions

against me. You can see their

presence etched into my skin -

a brand for every woman I have

loved, for every cut into my

heart that they have performed.

They are dark incisions these

women have done, and I am

all the lighter for it, but changed

and unbalanced. Every love

has damaged me, and yours

I hope is the most damaging

the most changing.

Falling in the cracks 22.11.05

I see chasms in

the spaces between

bricks, paved

so carefully for us

We are in jeopardy of

stepping between them

and falling into the

earth to be held.

It is contemptuous of

us: our easy movements

without pressure or heat

through airy heights

we forget our capability for

stillness, of letting the air

blow into us, of letting water

flow through the spaces in

and between our souls. We move

to intercept each moment

each thought and feeling

before it arrives.

With you I restrain myself:

instead of rushing to meet

and discard I will stand in the

earth and encourage your

flowing through me, your

movement into my every space

and the knowledge that here

I will be moved by you.

Knowledge 07.12.05

I knew, I knew, I knew

you were not that inanimate

that there was a beat

reaching out from some

hollowness within the

stories making you up

but I could not

access them

I could not bring

them into being, and

bring you back to me. I know

that my presence remains

unreplaced, that I stand alone

in my connected context with you.

This cannot impede my love.

Declaration 07.12.05

You have (opened up) your soul.

In this moment of


Histories parade

before me in attempts

to re-construct 'now'

(because we are what we

have been: the integrals

and areas of our pasts)

In Praise of Bricks 26.12.05

Although there is structure

and a Marxist commonality

in your intent

I prefer you best

when you are


It is then when your

validity and your pertinence

lack condition, when

you are exposed and,

in exposition,


I would see the clay

of you dissolve in a

reminder of mutability

I would feel the burn

of you melt in cold


From these would you

finally appear honest, seem

more human and be, at once,

a metaphor for our growth

and our timely


river bed 21.12.05

holes in the sand

marking hollows

beneath my feet

I imagine being

small enough to

drain myself into

the hole, submerged

in the water and

hidden from sunlight

It is a slow and

purposeful movement out of my shallow

abode – something normally

unworthy of excessive risk

lest I be suddenly and

fatally consumed

such is the danger of


Thunderous light

while the spread at

my waters extends

beyond its higher bounds

My neutrality is the definition

of my beauty

I am enchanting water

Inspiration 20.12.05

Such dullness as you

have inflicted upon

me: it is the slow

consuming silence

of one thinking

they were inspired.

Instead, I have

been stifled by

amassed expectations

unfitting 'reality'

a clash of silence

and voice speaks for itself

Lilies 23.12.05

I gave you them

You claimed

their pollen and

their falling petals

would stain


(as if I did not know)

In truth I hoped

they would stain

your clothes, the

wooden table on which

you left them.

Or maybe they would

mark your skin

dye your hair

indelibly marking you

possessing you: mine

(although we feign unpossession)

Crown of Thorns 25.12.05

Cutting into me as

I walk towards

a hand-washed

death (or was it


confusion is easily split

by wine-piercing

and headcuts may be

a sudden cut off mercy -

would be easier, but

No! My suffering is

so warranted father

Father, oh goddamned


in my head

dark and light

and the whiteblack


of insistent soreness

This crown this

cross and the destined

holes (holes within darkness

within holes) through my

hands my feet my

ribs and abdomen

lurching blood free

of mortality (or at

least an idea of the mortal,

the immortal) and my

momentary eternity:

that time, that instance in

which death is inevitable

the cloth and clutch of its

encapsulation: me crowning

me for this infinity my

infinity and my life

repeated repeated repeated

because of recording

recalling my words

My words this today

All on account of

birth (death happiness)

of me isolated

and as immaculate

as an unclouded

desert morning

Prayers and Darknesses 25.12.05

A shamble

of breaking voices

raising praise in

final pleas for



surrounds me

send Up your thoughts

send Up that which hurts

send Up any and everything

you refuse to question

They will be solved

A solution of clouds

harps angels and


I would rather be the

shadow beneath the

cloud: cast on the

unaware soil, infused

by its darkness:

a fertility for light

that would come

our way

Labeled 25.12.05

Am I kaffir you

who call me


Am I fuckingqueer you

who call me

bent fuck-buddy?

Am I AIDS-ridden you

who call me

HIV 'positive'?

Such a tenacity in the

multiplicity and

paradox of labels

And fuck you if I cannot be






hairy skin blanched in

frustration and


Blood tides 25.12.05

An eternity of switching-

sign parabolas in a

progression of



moving into

every level of


I sink beneath

the granule-much

sand breaking


that is my blood

though your veins -


My tears flow from your

eyes in attentiveness to

your tenebrous states

clouded shadowed coagulating



mixed you and I


A river wind 25.12.05

cobbles on the water's surface

the clasp of weeds

on a wader's


Organise 27.12.05

create some logical and coherent

structure to what is extant

let reality refill itself with

what is actually there

A contrast: water is not water-perceived

but now re-consideration leads

it to be water

my finger is not

pointing at the moon

but is the moon

and every understanding

of moon-ness

although you perceive so much

ease in my acceptance

it is trained, strung out to

a photon width's perception

i elocute i properly think

you your histories and

why i do not have the

need for privation

(though part of me screams

violation it is easily adumbrated

by the perpetuity of love)

and love that moon-finger word

how I wish that my pointing at

it would convey to you

its every nuance

its potency and



there you are

and I do not perceive

your borders

Systems 25.12.05

A river flowing

away from its mouth

Her body's limbs turn

away from the ground

Limpets attach to

the sea, not the rock

A compass points, not

North, but rather South.

The way that the water

flows indicates its

misdirected intentions:

a fracas with its

reality-cast role.

Indignant, its course


She is unaware of the

way she rests, arms above

her head and unaffected

by what we'd claim

gravity should


The mollusc, the sand, have

made their way up to the

dams attempting to

reclaim their ancestral


Direction, having lost its

terminal anchor, ceases

to retain its causative


And in amongst all

of this is the third

person casting their

mind out to clasp

ideas, to halt

progression of space

and to encapsulate why

direction should not

lay claim to




Jam-packed 28.12.05

your request for


does not much surprise me


knowledge, its constituent parts



possession, entitlement to all


a sinew reliquary holding us

between bone and flesh

and the long-haul fuss

of misunderstood ownership

Forestry 28.12.05

Muscle-bone bound is

this body

a tree carved man

without the roots

of water and sun

to guide its progression

woman walks towards the branches

entangled in the leaves

in approach to the heart

of it

although a tree is unlikely

to uproot

it could fall

and fall


the bones and sinew could

step up from the ground

calling up and moving away

exerting anger upon the

constraining body

these branches they scar

the intent of woman's skin

these leaves imprint their

skeletal brands on woman

such Action drowns woman

in the natural suffering to

which she progresses,

at least so in belief,

at least so in memory.

Capsule 01.01.06

i do not mean

space not the ones

bursting through

atmospheres and

launching satellites

no not those you

pop-pop in your

mouth vitamin quick

and PROZAC heavy

not accurate enough no

but that oval shape

maybe or hemmed in

yes or held into an

odd unaccustomed

shape honest

murky acrid tastes

the crumpling of metal

and the parachute explosion

all that's capsuled:

tension and bursting me now

carriage 01.01.06

this vessel

placed in you

to channel fear

its movements

an asymmetry of

rhythmic erratic


calling back to

recreate touchedness

in the non-you-me

space we entered

we leave behind

uncanny tastes of


begun : ended

Nevertheless 03.01.06

Inject me with your blood

I would suffer as you do

it would give a point

to these tears I

shed in disbelief

to the pain I

inflict on myself

in sympathy


though it is

Give birth to me

as young as you are

my mother, giving to

me all love, all

infected passion

that I would accept

my role

my dissolute

and arbitrary


and no pills

no love

no adoption

no purple and white

t-shirt wearing


can protect me

when the uncaring

the unbelieving

hold power

Injunction 04.01.06

I would celebrate

turning water to wine

and the subsequent joy

were they not inane

I would worship the

wonder of healing

blindness and maiming

were they reality

I crave a son of gods

were it a cannibalistic

celebration or a wine-sex

rite of gloried intents

I would worship, I would

be faithful if there was

but one iota of evidence

that they could miracle

that magic could be exist

or be returned to those

who suffer in its non-existence

who live under the falseness

of its lacking. Were you here

would you perform healings? Are

you that connected to god, to the

wondrousness of faith? Or are

you simply created in history and

so I defy you to create faith

in me, my ingestion of you

running poison-thorough

through me in its ability to

change me. If you could

heal infected children, if you could

stop collapsing lungs

if you could remove the yellow

clasp on malarial eyes. Then

would I eat and drink of you

and I would praise you

I would magic you and consistently

and continuously create you in

every day. I would be yours

I would be faith.