The House that Heritage Laws Built

June 25, 2009

Tuesday was the twentieth anniversary of Australia being connected to the internet. But if you’re optimistic about Iran and the potential of the internet and Twitter, here’s a reality check from the Wall Street Journal.

Since I told you the story a few weeks ago of the prosecution of a Melbourne man who demolished his own house, I’ve been inundated with phone calls and emails from property owners being punished by local councils.

This story from Perth a few days ago takes the cake. A guy has been ordered to reconstruct a demolished house in its original style. I thought heritage laws were supposed to protect old properties, not force people to build new ones! (But, hey – if you’re the Rudd government you don’t have to obey these laws!)

Which gives me an excuse to link to this great property rights speech from Elia Kazan’s classic 1960s movie Wild River. Watching it is ten minutes well spent.

I’ve been reading a marvellous new book The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan – you can read my review, from the forthcoming IPA Review here. The excellent podcast New Books In History has an interesting and lengthy (about an hour) interview with the author, James Mann.

In the Sunday Age Chris Berg wrote Kevin Rudd thinks anything can be economic stimulus. Tim Wilson released a major report on why we should have free trade in books and for good measure in The Punch he took at swipe at Tim Winton. And Richard Allsop in Online Opinion pointed how local councils have become instruments of the Nanny State.

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A Eucalyptus Distillery Museum-led recovery

June 18, 2009

America is spending $50 million from its economic stimulus package on fish food.

In Australia we’re spending:

You can go to Kevin Rudd’s special ‘Nation Building’ website and click on ‘Community Infrastructure Program’ to see what we’re spending our stimulus on. But my favourite by far:

So we’re going in to $300 billion of debt for some advertising banners?

And if Obama can buy a car company, and Gordon Brown a bank, why shouldn’t John Stanhope, the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory buy an AFL footy team?

And in the midst of everything that’s going on in the world, the Senate thought it should spend a day inquiring whether Tasmania should get an AFL team.

I’ve mentioned Reason Online to you before. Here’s their top ten list of Time magazine’s great beat-ups. Remember the great Pokemon scare of 1999?

In The Punch, Tim Wilson wrote how Nathan Rees is starting a trade war, and in the Australian Financial Review I warned against the new protectionism. Chris Berg and Chris Murn released a major report into over-regulation in Western Australia and Julie Novak wrote about it in the West Australian today.

PS: 20,000 people receive Hey…what did I miss?, apparently including the team at Insiders, who last Sunday morning used the Dan Hannan video we brought to you. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it – it’s pretty good.

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Gordon Brown: Dr Seuss or Monty Python?

June 11, 2009

Here’s why you shouldn’t always believe government predictions.

In blue is what Barack Obama hoped would happen. In red is what ACTUALLY happened.

(Steve Kates of RMIT University identified this US data, and the original graph from the US Council of Economic Advisers is here.)

Rudd made the same kind of prediction. (Here, page 33.) A couple of hours ago we found out Australia’s unemployment rate has gone up to 5.7%. Australia’s luck is holding – unlike the US.

The federal government’s ‘Education Revolution’ is nothing of the sort. But this is a real revolution: paying teachers $125,000 a year, students in class from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon, and making Latin and Music compulsory!

The school is in New York City, it’s government-funded, its focus is on disadvantaged students, and it opens in September. The New York Times tells the story.

Gordon Brown’s government is turning into an absolute farce. Boris Johnson compares it to Monty Python and the Pink Panther. And Dan Hannan deploys Dr Seuss quotes to beg Brown to leave. (Runs rings around “fair shake of the sauce bottle mate”, doesn’t it!)

In the Sunday Age, Chris Berg writes about executive salaries, in The Australian Financial Review, Alan Moran looks at the problems of government debt, and in The Age, Sinclair Davidson asks whether we’re having a recession.

PS – 20,000 people get Hey…what did I miss? If you know some one who doesn’t, send them this and they can click here.

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Obama’s car company, Rudd’s pink batts

June 4, 2009

Barack Obama will spend 1% of the US federal budget buying General Motors. So here at the IPA we did a calculation to see what 1% of the Australian federal budget buys. Turns out, that’s how much Kevin Rudd is spending on home insulation!

When Obama buys a car company the issue dominates the American media for a month. In this country when Rudd spends the same amount (proportionately) on pink batts no-one seems to care…

As Mark Steyn says, there’s many absurd things about the US stimulus package. But this is the best: the New York Times meets the 31-year old political staffer now running GM (or what’s left of it!) And if you read only one article on why GM went broke, it should be this one in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

On Tuesday ACTU boss Sharan Burrow demanded transparency for executive salaries. Fine. But what about starting with the people whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers? As the IPA’s Julie Novak pointed out in the Canberra Times this week, in Missouri you can find out exactly what every public servant earns. (Try it yourself here.)

But we don’t need to follow every American innovation. This is an amusing 8 minute video from Reason TV about US state governments demanding interior decorators be licensed.

In the Australian Financial Review I wrote about how Sol Trujillo didn’t realise we’re different from America. In the Spectator Australia, Richard Allsop looked at Gordon Barton: Australia’s Maverick Entrepreneur, and in the Herald Sun Alan Moran explained how to make houses cheaper.

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