Gerard Henderson and Tonto McCrann – The latest
Gerard Henderson’s spirited defence of the Herald Sun’s economics guru Terry “Tonto” McCrann is cute. He added a bit in his weekly column on his website last Friday. It follows McCrann’s ham-fisted and uninvited entry to the discussion Henderson and I were having over the serious errors in an article Henderson wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 August 2012. It could be that McCrann and Henderson are operating some sort of tag team of distraction from the facts, or just that McCrann wanted to cozy up to Henderson to help out.
Just to repeat: Here is what Henderson wrote in August:
- “The statistics tell the story. In 1974-75 Commonwealth outlays increased by close to 50 per cent. This equated to an increase in spending of more than 5 per cent of gross domestic product in just one year. Taxes rose by close to 30 per cent and the budget deficit increased substantially.”
Henderson and McCrann are flailing around with a mix of smoke-screens, burley, offensive claims and every thing but the kitchen sink as they both avoid the obvious point that there are three significant errors in the above extract that are likely to have mislead anyone reading Henderson’s column.
Henderson admits one howler, on the increase in spending “of more than 5% of GDP” but has the temerity to say “you should concede that this is a minor error”.
Well Gerard, an error of at least 1.7% of GDP is, in today’s dollar terms, around $26 billion. I reckon that that is a major error, but your flippant approach to facts might make you right. What’s $26 billion in a single year when you are trying to make a point?
Henderson and his trusty sidekick Tonto McCrann refuse to acknowledge the other errors in the article despite me pointing him the primary data sources which I do again here. http://www.budget.gov.au/2012-13/content/myefo/download/13_Appendix_D.pdf
Click on the link. In that document (Table D1) any one with good reading glasses and a calculator can see that the 1974-75 Budget delivered an underlying cash surplus of 0.3% of GDP. It was not, as Henderson wrote and McCrann reiterates a year where “the budget deficit increased substantially”. It was a surplus, not a deficit.
The data also shows that government outlays in the same year rose 39.6%, not the “close to 50%” claimed by Henderson. The tag team still refuses to acknowledge this error even though a 10% error in government spending is worth around $36 billion in a single year. $36 billion. That would almost cover the costs of the NBN – in just a year!
In all of this, Henderson refuses to note that he confused me with Jason Koutsoukis who used to write for The Age. As noted before, I suspect Henderson gets a little perplexed by these longish Greek names. Koukoulas, Koutsoukis – whatever.
Tonto McCrann is also silent on his work history and qualifications to comment on budget matters. Maybe that explains his mix up of surpluses and deficits.
Just one final point:
Henderson ridicules me for length of time I spent working in Prime Minister Gillard’s office – it was “for a mere 10 months” as he clucks. Well, this put down falls a little flat when one considers the fact (oh those nasty facts again) that I had a greater priority in my life in the middle of last year when I left Ms Gillard’s office, namely looking after my wife who was recovering from breast cancer.
I left a message last Friday to mention this to Mr Henderson, but he has not returned my call.