Saving the poor – one prawn at a time

March 25, 2010

One of the great things about Hey…What did I miss? is that people send me lots of bizarre Nanny State things from around the world. This week I thought I’d share some.

This one is from a pub in Perth a few days ago. Read the fine print:

Could you imagine what would happen if the vulnerable or disadvantaged thought that this flyer for banana prawns was directed at them? (I didn’t make this up – you can see the full advertisement for yourself here.) And this one is from (where else?) England:

So the idea is that they’re too drunk to stay on the train platform – but sober enough to read and understand a warning sign? With all this Nanny State nagging I wasn’t surprised to see this sign, which the IPA’s Tim Wilson photographed on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula:

The big thing this week has been the American health care bill. So what did Congress actually pass? Bloomberg has a summary of the bill. And Reason Magazine imagines what the American health system will look like in 2020 – it’s not great. Mark Steyn goes through what it all means.

The lastest edition of Vanity Fair has some great pieces. There’s the sequel to Wall Streethere’s the trailer for the new movie. And just for old time’s sake here’s two classics – the trailer of the 1987 original – and that speech by Gordon Gekko (and don’t pretend you don’t love it). And there’s also this fascinating piece about the wives of Lehman Brothers – it’s on the lifestyles of the sort of people who get $80 million redundancy packages. Here’s what I wrote about how global warming wrecked Lehman Brothers.

Here’s what IPA staff were talking about this week: in the Herald Sun on Saturday, Alan Moran looked at the looming energy crisis in Australia. And in the Sunday Age, Chris Berg said the problem with the centre-right is they have no philosophy.

PS: Did you see the IPA’s Tim Wilson on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday? If you missed it, the video is available here.

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Jeremy Clarkson on the Nanny Kennel

March 18, 2010

Hey – who knew? Maybe fixing the health system is really easy! On Monday a doctor at Queanbeyan Hospital told Kevin Rudd we just need to channel our inner Castro. The doctor reckons Cuba has ‘exactly the same healthcare indicators as Australia’.

Well… I don’t want to sound too much like a nit-picker, but the “evidence” seems to say something else entirely!

You can look at the World Health Organisation data for yourself here.

And the other socialist paradise? Venezuela’s even worse. The adult mortality rate there is 142 per 1,000 people. But don’t tell Sean Penn! He thinks anybody who calls Hugo Chávez a dictator should go to jail! Here’s an interesting piece from Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek about how Chávez is nationalising supermarkets to create ‘socialist megastores’.

Remember Peter Spencer? He’s the farmer who went on a hunger strike to protest the government taking his property. His case has been referred to the High Court. We’ll keep you posted.

But it’s not all great news for property rights this week – the NSW government wants to force people to sell their homes to developers! This piece in the latest City Journal shows why Sydney shouldn’t go down the New York path. (To be absolutely clear: stealing property is a Bad Thing!)

John Roskam reviewed Paul Kelly’s book about the Howard & Keating governments in December’s IPA Review. But what does John Howard think about Kelly’s book? Read his review in the latest issue of Quadrant.

From the Nanny State files: Last week the British government tried to introduce a dog owner’s tax and licensing system. Jeremy Clarkson ripped it to shreds in The Sunday Times (it’s very funny). And did you see Clarkson’s other great piece in The Australian yesterday?

Here’s what IPA staff have been writing about this week: In The West Australian today Alan Moran said it’s time governments released more land for housing developments. In Friday’s Australian Financial Review John Roskam said big businesses are like state governments. And on the ABC’s The Drum on Tuesday, I wrote that Menzies is no free-market hero.

P.S. Tim Wilson will be on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night. And John is away today – he’ll be back in the Hey… chair next week.

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Kevin konquers karpark konfusion

March 11, 2010

Does Kevin Rudd want to run everything? Hospitals…school curriculum…disabled parking stickers…

If you’re one of the millions of Australians confused by what these stickers on a car’s dashboard are…

…Kevin Rudd has fixed your problem! He’s ‘harmonised’ them into a new NATIONAL design for disabled parking stickers!!!

Today is Geoffrey Blainey’s birthday. He’s 80. He’s on the cover of this month’s IPA Review. Here’s the IPA’s Richard Allsop in Saturday’s Weekend Australian on our greatest historian. On Monday Counterpoint spoke with Richard – and they had this fascinating lecture by Blainey on how to write history. (Blainey spoke at the IPA last year – here’s the video.)

Also in the IPA Review is Julie Novak’s review of a great read Heroic Misadventures by Ron Manners. It’s the essential story of what happened (and didn’t happen) to libertarianism in Australia.

From the Nanny State files: in New York a Democrat Assemblyman wants to ban ALL salt from restaurant food. And in Britain (again!) the government wants to regulate the size of chips in fish and chip shops. And here in Australia – the Family Court decides what children are allowed to call their parents.

I was on Sky talking about why taxing business to fund paid parental leave is a bad idea. And in Tuesday’s Question Time in parliament Wayne Swan was quoting me (page 11).  If only he agreed with everything else the IPA said! Here’s the CIS’s critique of the plan in The Australian.

In the Sunday Age Chris Berg said parents should choose what students are taught – not the government. In The Australian last Thursday Sinclair Davidson explained that Canberra running hospitals could lead to higher taxes. On Friday Julie Novak was in The Hobart Mercury explaining why the Greens’ policies would be a disaster for Tasmania, and Tim Wilson was on ABC2 Breakfast News talking abo ut Nanny State taxes. In Saturday’s Herald Sun Alan Moran dissected government policies that make houses more expensive.

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Maxine McKew’s favourite book is about herself

March 4, 2010

are the favourite non-fiction authors of Canberra MPs according to this great new survey by Andrew Leigh published yesterday. Tolstoy, Harper Lee, and Tolkien are the MP’s most popular fiction writers.

Never heard of Robert Caro? – he’s the biographer of Lyndon Johnson. I gave this talk about Caro at the IPA’s Liberty Sessions last year. Here’s our review of Carlyon’s The Great War.

(Maxine McKew’s favourite book – The Battle for Bennelong – is about herself. And Bill Heffernan reckons he hasn’t read a book since he left school.)

Our politicians enjoy reading about individuals. Funny then the new national history curriculum doesn’t mention a single historical figure. It’s all ‘movements’ (16 mentions) and ‘groups’ (13 mentions). Supposedly this is what the PM means when he says it’s ‘back to basics’. (If you’ve got audio listen to him say ‘basics’ – 23 times – in this press conference.)

On Monday on The 7.30 Report I said the national curriculum was a terrible idea. And IPA Review contributor Greg Melleuish had this important piece on the history curriculum.

For some MPs class warfare is all there is to politics. At a Senate Committee last month, the ALP’s Doug Cameron wanted to know where the Productivity Commission’s employees went to school. You think I’m joking? Here’s the transcript (on page 24):

Senator CAMERON…Could you now provide the committee with the mix of employees between public and private schools—not the tertiary institutions but the schools?

(You’d remember Doug – he told the IPA’s Sinclair Davidson taxpayers weren’t allowed to question politicians.)

This is something good I’ve read recently – Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal on the revival of John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith may have loved big government, but he did know how to write – ponder his advice in The Atlantic before you start your next novel.

Here’s what IPA staff have been writing about this week: In The Australian today, Sinclair Davidson said Rudd’s health takeover will lead to higher taxes. In the ABC’s The Drum, Tom Switzer said that climate politics was changing, and Alan Moran documented all the climate scandals. In The Australian Financial Review on Friday I said the new IR legislation unfairly targeted employers, and in Online Opinion Richard Allsop asked why Sydney needed yet another transport plan.

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