The price of piano stairs

February 25, 2010

Kevin Rudd said in September that if we didn’t have an enormous stimulus package ‘unemployment would be going through the roof’. Well – have a look at this research done by the IPA’s Professor Sinclair Davidson:

So what happened in those countries which had a smaller stimulus and a smaller increase in unemployment? Here’s the relevant OECD data. But the world’s not out of the woods yet. 25% of American homeowners have a mortgage more than their house is worth.

Here’s what everyone’s been talking about this week: What it’s really like working in Canberra for the health bureaucracy.

Speaking of big stupid government. Lots of people want to make Australia like Sweden. So Melbourne City Council have taken up the challenge! It wants to spend over $120,000 on ‘piano stairs‘ at a train station. What are piano stairs you ask? They make music when you stand on them. Read the proposal here. And here’s the promo video.

And the ABC’s Counterpoint has this great interview with Graeme Kirk. Graeme took the New South Wales government to the High Court when safety bureaucrats declared him guilty – with no chance to defend himself.

From the Nanny State files: in Britain (yep – in Britain AGAIN!) they want to ban swimming googles! And a sixty-seven year old man was banned from a bus because… he had a pot of paint!

Here’s some sneak previews from the March IPA Review. Tim Wilson on In the Loop and Chris Berg’s review of A History of Alcohol in Australia. And this is a great piece from Slate last week – what really happened during Prohibition – it killed people.

Here’s what IPA staff have been talking about this week: In the Sunday Age, Chris Berg exposed the theatrics of airport security. In Saturday’s Herald Sun, Alan Moran said governments ignore car users. And if you missed me debate Malcolm Turnbull and Mungo MacCallum on Q&A on Monday – it’s here.

P.S. It’s great to see that following Project Western Australia by the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation and the IPA, the WA government will start cutting regulation. Here’s our research.

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Kevin ‘Nostradamus’ Rudd

February 18, 2010

Who says politicians think short-term? Kevin Rudd talks about Australia’s population in 2050 and the climate change in 2100. Here’s some other government predictions we’ve found:

And Kevin Rudd is going to be around how long? Remember how in 1892 they were pretty sure Australia would have 60 million people by 2000?

On Monday in the Daily Telegraph Boris Johnson said Greece was stuffed (it’s funny) and Paul Krugman in the New York Times said the EU was stuffed (it’s interesting). And here’s Peter Swan in The Australian on why Obama’s bank policy is stuffed (it’s informative).

Did you see education unions oppose an $8000 pay rise for teachers in disadvantaged schools? (You can go to the same union’s website to see some University of Wollongong academic arguing the IPA’s idea to give parents school choice is like invading Iraq. Gee… thank goodness for Australia’s public universities… Oh – and the Communist Party of Australia didn’t like our idea either.)

Here’s three new Nanny State stories from the UK. We started our now-famous Nanny State files in ‘Hey’ a year ago as a bit of a joke. This first story will have you shaking your head:

Here’s what IPA staff have been talking about this week: in the Australian Financial Review on Friday, I compared Barnaby Joyce to Lindsay Tanner. In Wednesdays Australian, Tim Wilson feared the rise of the Nanny State, and in Fridays Canberra Times, Julie Novak revealed the failure of the stimulus package. In The Australian today, Alan Moran said cutting carbon emissions was a waste of time and in the SMH on Saturday, he blamed the government for high house prices.

PS: The video of my foreign aid debate on Tuesday with Peter Singer and Tim Costello is here – and on Monday night I’m on the ABC’s Q&A with Malcolm Turnbull and Tanya Plibersek.

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By 2020 you’ll be a lot happier

February 11, 2010

Here’s something I bet you didnt know – it’s now the job of the Australian Government to “increase happiness”! Here are the government’s exact words:

By 2020, the Australian Government envisions a greater capacity ‘…to create jobs, build prosperity, save lives, eliminate disadvantage, protect our fragile planet, and increase happiness’.

It’s on the first page of a government report – ‘Inspiring Australia: A national strategy for engagement with the sciences’ – released on Tuesday. It got virtually no publicity – but the IPA decided to slog through it anyway. We found out that apparently ‘increasing happiness’ has been a government objective since May last year.  When was Kevin Rudd going to tell us? Does he (or anyone else) know what these Canberra bureaucrats write?

Here and here are reasons why politicians should stay out of the happiness business.

Monday’s Superbowl was the most-watched TV show in US history (beating the last episode of MASH). This controversial ad was shown during the game. Here’s what the Lost Angeles Times said about the ad.

And from the Nanny State files: here’s a great article from The Age on Monday on how government regulation is killing cultural events. We broke this story a couple of years ago, and Chris Berg wrote more about it last year.

Meanwhile in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston, they’re making it illegal to smoke outside!

Here’s what IPA staff have been talking about this week: Chris Berg in the Sunday Age said that the government is a bigger problem than lobbyists. In The Spectator last week, Tom Switzer explained why Kevin Rudd is like Richard Nixon, and in the Herald Sun on Saturday, Alan Moran considered Tony Abbott’s climate policy.

PS: I’ll be debating Peter Singer and Tim Costello next Tuesday at Melbourne University – if you want to come, click here.

(And thank you to the 38 people who emailed me and told me I should learn to count – last week was the 105th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth – not the 150th. So here’s a bonus to make up for the mistake – an interview with her.)

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Don’t offend the unreliable

February 4, 2010

The register of Canberra lobbyists was updated a few days ago. This morning I asked IPA researchers to count them! There’s more than 630 lobbyists (at least that’s down from 653 six months ago) working for around 1800 clients.

But what has Australia come to when The Big Issue needs a lobbyist in Canberra?

In the midst of Glaciergate, Climategate, and Polar Beargate here’s a new one – Killer treesgate! (For a moment I thought they were serious.)

On a serious note – the High Court’s decision yesterday in the Kirk case quashing the criminal conviction of a farmer who breached safety laws is a win for liberty. The High Court said the New South Wales laws were unconstitutional. The laws:

Here’s what the IPA’s Ken Phillips has to say about the case in today’s Business Spectator. (We’re particularly pleased – the IPA has been talking about the injustice of the Kirk case since 2006.)

Tuesday was Ayn Rand’s 105th Birthday – here’s’s video on Ayn Rand’s legacy, and here’s a TV interview with her from 1959. And at Cato, David Boaz writes on why Rand is so popular today.

From the Nanny State files: a story last week about what happened in England when an employer advertised for ‘reliable workers’!

Finally – the organisers of the sold-out Christopher Monckton and Ian Plimer tour told me this morning they’ve just added two new dates in Perth (9 Feb) and Sydney (12 Feb). Details here.

Here’s what IPA staff have been talking about this week: on Friday in The Australian Financial Review, I asked why we hadn’t seen the report of the great tax review. In The Australian on Monday, Tim Wilson asked why the ABC needs more power. And on Lateline Business on Tuesday, John Pesutto explained the rise of union power.

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