When Number 10 asked for an opinion…

April 30, 2009

The IPA’s Julie Novak has done some calculations on just how big Rudd’s budget deficits will be – here’s what her results look like. The title of ‘Whitlamesque’ doesn’t do them justice!

Barack Obama has been president for 100 days. Of all the commentary about it I particularly liked the piece by David Frum of the American Enterprise Institute and Reason magazine’s take.

And how cool is this…the official website of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown encourages citizens to start their own petitions. And guess what’s the most popular issue – yep – you guessed it – ‘Please Go: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to resign‘. More than 30,000 people have signed it. Probably not what Number 10 was hoping for.

And it’s just been announced that they’re making a sequel to Wall Street. In case you’ve forgotten what gave birth to the 1980s, Christian Kerr, writer at The Australian and IPA Review has the video of Gordon Gekko’s famous speech on his blog.

Due to demand, we’ve booked an even bigger room for the Melbourne launch of Ian Plimer’s Heaven+Earth on May 6th. If you want to come visit here.

Alan Moran pointed out in ABC Unleashed that the first home owners grant is the least of our worries, in “Open convection“. And in the Sunday Age, Chris Berg isn’t sure that an empty Australia would be that much fun: “Depopulate and die of boredom“.

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Stimulus! Stimulus! Stimulus!

April 23, 2009

The PM said this week there’ll be another stimulus package in next month’s budget. Does anyone believe that another stimulus package will succeed when the first two haven’t?

No wonder in this morning’s Wall Street Journal Asia, IPA Review contributor Alex Robson described Kevin Rudd’s government as ‘profligate’.

In the US, there’s so much ‘stimulus’ that State and city auditors aren’t able to keep up. Of course, lawmakers are responding to this dilemma with yet more stimulus.

So, in this Onion video, the US Treasury Department issues an emergency recall of all US dollars.

Ian Plimer’s book on climate change Heaven+Earth keeps making waves. The publisher told me they’re doing a third print run. The book has already sold 10,000 copies. Reserve your copy here.

And want to know more about Kevin Rudd’s least favourite economist? This 1985 video interview with Friedrich Hayek has just gone online. (It goes for more than an hour, so you might want to save it for the weekend.)

In last week’s Australian Financial Review, I talked about how the rule of law was being undermined: “Rule by nods and winks“. And you think we’ve deregulated wheat? Think again, as Louise Staley pointed out in “ACCC in dangerous game of monopoly“. Chris Berg and Julie Novak will be talking broadband and the Australian economy in an online forum between 12:30PM and 2:30PM tomorrow, here.

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Check out Obama’s tax return

April 16, 2009

Kevin Rudd thinks the National Broadband Plan is ‘nation building’ like the Snowy Mountains scheme. I’m worried it will be more like:

For a quick summary of why the broadband plan is a bad idea you can read the IPA’s Alan Moran in The Age and Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian this week.

President Obama’s tax return was made public overnight. Our tax system can get pretty complicated – but it can’t compete against what Americans have to endure. No wonder lobbying for tax reform is a big business in the US. Have a look for example at question 42 on page 2:

“If line 38 is over $119,975, or you provided housing to a Midwestern displaced individual, see page 36. Otherwise multiply $3,500 by the total number of exemptions claimed on line 6d”.

Talking about taxes and lobbying. What’s more profitable: investing in your business or hiring lobbyists? The Freakonomics blog yesterday pointed out that $1 spent lobbying Congress produced $220 of tax benefits.

In the Wall Street Journal one of our favourite historians, the Forbes columnist John Steele Gordon, has an interesting review of the new book The Industrial Revolutionaries.

And here in Australia it hasn’t taken long for Ian Plimer’s new book Heaven + Earth – Global Warming: The Missing Science to create a stir. Paul Sheehan in The Sydney Morning Herald this week talked about how it forced him to change his assumptions about global warming.

(The IPA will be launching Heaven + Earth on May 6th in Melbourne and you can order a copy from Connor Court Publishing now.)

In The Age, Chris Berg can’t help but think that the government’s just makin’ it up: “How a joker sent Battman to the rescue“.

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Rudd vs. Whitlam

April 9, 2009

People have asked me why the IPA describes Kevin Rudd’s government as “Whitlamesque”. Which is what I did in my Australian Financial Review column last week. Surely Rudd’s not that bad!

So here’s the explanation:

Rudd has increased the size of government more in one year than Whitlam did in two!

I enjoyed this interview last night (11 minutes) with the conservative satirist PJ O’Rourke on the 7:30 Report talking about comedy, the US presidency, and life. PJ will be speaking later this month in Sydney for the Centre for Independent Studies and in Perth with the CIS & Mannkal Economic Education Foundation.

The failure of the government’s big broadband tender wouldn’t have surprised anybody. (See the IPA’s Chris Berg in Crikey on Tuesday.) In the Business Age, Kevin Morgan also has a good piece on just how the government’s plans have unravelled.

And looking to pick up a last-minute read for Easter? I recommend Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Tom Switzer reviewed Nixonland in the most recent IPA Review, and Reason Magazine’s Jesse Walker has a fascinating interview with Perlstein here.

In The Herald Sun, Alan Moran isn’t convinced that government is the solution to the problem: “An FDR future with muddleheaded Rudd“. And remember last weekend’s G20 summit? In “Home is where the solution is“, Sinclair Davidson asks the Australian government to ‘think global, act local’ when it comes to economic policy.

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