Not even Keynes agrees with him

July 30, 2009

Did you bother reading Kevin Rudd’s 6000 words on the weekend? Ross Gittins described it as like having to sit through one of Fidel Castro’s three hour speeches.

The PM reckons that there’s no alternative to his Whitlamesque policies. According to Rudd the policy of balanced budgets (called the “Premiers’ Plan”) during the 1930s produced ‘an economic rout’. But is Rudd right?

The IPA’s Professor Sinclair Davidson has produced this chart. It speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

I asked IPA researcher Adam Wojtonis to dig out what John Maynard Keynes (Rudd’s economic inspiration) thought of the Premiers’ Plan. Actually: Keynes thought the Plan was pretty good! Read for yourself what Keynes wrote in the Melbourne Herald in 1932.

(Sinclair and Julie Novak find 5 and 1/2 things wrong with Rudd’s argument in this exclusive IPA paper published today.)

And where does your all your tax go? This great new website taxcheck.com.au shows you. Try it out.

Richard Lindzen from MIT in the US is one of the world’s best climate scientists – his piece in Quadrant Online is important. Hopefully the Australian Labor Party conference won’t single-handedly start a climate change trade war. This is from the website Agitate, and this is Tim Wilson in today’s Australian Financial Review.

And for the Nanny State files – it’s illegal to play catch in Clearwater, Florida.

In The Australian Financial Review on Friday, I said government regulation is making big banks even bigger. Alan Moran wrote in The Australian about the real cost of renewable energy, plus I talked on the ABC’s Counterpoint about FreedomFest.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ban

July 23, 2009

I’m just back from an exciting FreedomFest conference in Vegas.

Australians complain our politicians don’t spend enough time in parliament. You can see here how the number of Senate sitting days has gone from 80 in 1991 to 50 last year.

At FreedomFest I heard how Americans are trying to stop politicians from spending too much time making laws! In Nevada there’s a constitutional ban on the legislature sitting more than 4 months every two years. (It’s in Article 4, Section 2)

And guess what happens to the stockmarket when politicians aren’t making laws? Yep – you’re right:

At FreedomFest I enjoyed Charles Murray’s address (a version is here). Here’s a video of Murray: why university is a waste of time. I also heard the excellent Wayne Root, 2008 Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential candidate. He talks about his new book here. (Watch it, it’s really good!)

And do you think I go on about the Nanny State too much? Here’s why I care – in England last week they banned Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from a parade! And on Tuesday Terry McCrann talked about the Nanny State and house auctions.

On Monday the IPA’s Julie Novak released an important paper on school vouchers. Here’s the editorial from The Australian about it. In the Sunday Age, Chris Berg wrote about this week’s big issue – Masterchef! And Alan Moran talked about book imports in the Australian Financial Review.

PS If you’re in Melbourne you should try to see the John Brack exhibition at the National Gallery in Victoria. In the forthcoming IPA Review, Tim Wilson writes about how John Brack was an unusual artist – he didn’t hate the middle class. The exhibition ends on August 9.

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July 16, 2009

Boris Johnson is always good. His latest column on the Nanny State in the UK is fantastic: “Health and safety fears are making Britain a safe place for extremely stupid people.” Need proof?

Signs for the Stupid

The Daily Mail posts more signs here. One warns that crawling into a bin “can result in injury”. Oh really?

This week saw a great victory for people who love books: the Productivity Commission has finally recommended that Australia lift its trade restrictions on book imports. (Their report is here.)

In today’s Australian, the IPA’s Tim Wilson explains why. In fact, Tim’s major IPA report “Unbinding Book Barriers” convinced the Productivity Commission we’re paying 30% more for books than we should.

Of course, there’s been loud cries from left-wing authors and publishers. One described people who want cheaper books as “sociopaths in suits“, and author Tim Winton Peter Carey called book retailers “a new species that can swim in acid“. (Tim Wilson took Winton to task on The Punch, and I wrote about their absurd rhetoric in the Sunday Age.)

Anyway: turns out The Chaser can still be funny. Their song last night about Kevin Rudd’s bureaucratic language was hilarious.

On Friday, John Roskam wrote in the Australian Financial Review that fads didn’t save the Irish economy.¬†Alan Moran looked behind the climate whimsy of the L’Aquila summit in ABC Unleashed, and in The Wall Street. Journal Europe, Tim Wilson said intellectual property will be vital to developing low carbon technology. And in The Herald Sun, Alan Moran argued the public sector spending binge costs us dearly.

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Dude, where’s my car price?

July 9, 2009

How much does a new car cost?

The Rudd government thought its 2008 Clarity in Pricing Bill would “empower consumers” by forcing firms to add up those pesky ‘fees and charges’ and show the total price of products.

But check this out: because of the new law, car companies now say they can’t show any prices on their websites at all! (Look for yourself – Holden is here and Ford is here.) It’s because extra ‘on-road’ fees and charges vary from state to state. And even dealer to dealer.

So how is making it much harder to find out the price of a new car “empowering”?

And do you think you could get permission to run a community fete in the UK?

One reporter was told by a bureaucrat that it would be so complicated he’d have to file a freedom of information request just to begin. In Australia, the IPA has long talked about how red tape is undermining communities – Louise Staley pointed out in The Age that red tape is killing rural volunteerism, and I looked at how tough it was to get a street party approved by local councils.

There are a lot of great videos in the US that show just how economically reckless the Obama government has been. This one is funny: “The National Debt Road Trip“, and this one is very powerful: “Stop Spending Our Future“.

John Roskam is in Vegas for FreedomFest, but before he left, he debated workplace relations with union head Sharan Burrow on ABC’s Australia Talks. In the Sunday Age I looked at silly Nanny State recommendations. Tom Switzer pointed out that the political climate is changing on the ETS in the Spectator, and in ABC Opinion Julie Novak wrote that blocking school results is not only bad policy, it’s pointless. And today Julie proposed better rules for budgets in the Canberra Times.

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