Happiness is just a koala suit away

September 30, 2010

Last week Canada’s Fraser Institute released its 2010 Economic Freedom of the World report.

The countries with the most economic freedom were:
1.         Hong Kong
2.         Singapore
3.         New Zealand

The least free were:
139.     Angola
140.     Myanmar
141.     Zimbabwe

Australia came in 8th, behind USA 6th, and Canada 7th, and in front of Mauritius 9th, and the UK 10th. (The IPA’s one of the free market think tanks from 70 countries that co-sponsors the report.)

The rest of the world is interested in economic freedom – but the Australian Bureau of Statistics isn’t!  Their report Is life in Australia getting better? released a fortnight ago includes things like:

Yeah, because I judge the quality of my life by how many people dress up as koalas and tin rattle for the Wilderness Society in the Bourke Street Mall.

You’ll be happy to know the First World War finishes on Sunday.  That’s the day that Germany will make its last war reparation payment to France.

There’s a really interesting interview on Lateline from Monday with Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform who’s in Australia.  Watch it here and the transcript is here.  Listen out for the lake analogy at the 5 minute 30 sec mark.

Remember the hoo-ha over school ranking in MySchool? Well the LA Times has gone one better – they rank individual teachers by name (yes, really!) Which is fine if you’re Miguel Aguilar at Broadous Elementary but not so great if you’re Araceli Martinez at Miramonte Elementary.

In The Australian Financial Review today, Alan Moran said Labor was heading in the wrong direction on reform. In Tuesday’s Drum, Chris Berg argued a carbon price was a waste of time.

PS – Our James Bennett Anglosphere function is booked out, but there are still some places available at the launch of Professor Bob Carter’s new book Climate: The Counter-Consensus, with guest speaker Rodney Hide. Details here.

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Where’s the passion in politics? Right here!

September 16, 2010

There’s only one thing people have been talking about this week - It’s this. A 5 minute video of Phil Davison last Wednesday running for the Republican nomination for treasurer of Ohio’s Stark County.

He lost.

The IPA’s Julie Novak has been crunching some inflation numbers for a new research paper.

The things that have gone up most in price since 2005 are: water and sewage – up 52%,
electricity – up 50%, pet food – up 46%, tobacco – up 41%, gas – up 39%.  (The general price index has increased by 16%.)

What do you notice?  Most of these things are either heavily taxed or regulated by government.

Here’s what’s gone down the most: AV and computer equipment – 48%, childcare – 22%, towels and linen – 12%, women’s outerwear – 9%, women’s footwear – 8%.

You don’t have to be a techie to appreciate Apple’s straight talking. Here’s their guidelines released last week for iPhone and iPad apps. Points 2, 3, 4 and 5 are classics. (Oh, and Apple is now bigger than Microsoft or Google).

Anyone remember Nokia? Back in the day Kim Beazley (and lots of other politicians) loved them. Mmm … let’s see how they’re going. Not so good – this is from Bloomberg yesterday. The IPA has always been a bit sceptical of the Scandinavian socialist nirvana.

The latest Vanity Fair has a really good piece by Michael Lewis – Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds. And the September edition had this on Obama’s Caffeine Management.

One of my favourite philosophers Roger Scruton has a new book. The IPA’s Richard Allsop talks about it on the IPA’s Foundations of Western Civilisation website.

From the Nanny State files: the Safety Police in England don’t like apple trees. Instead of killing them couldn’t they have just pruned them?

In Online Opinion on Monday, the IPA’s Alan Moran said independents could poison the ALP. In Tuesday’s Drum, Chris Berg said the new parliamentary paradigm had already failed. And Tim Wilson was on ABC 24′s The Drum discussing how big government was corrupting civil society.

PS – Don’t forget the upcoming Rodney Hide and James Bennett functions at the IPA. Details here.

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At least there’s only two of them

September 9, 2010

To get 2 MPs to support her Julia Gillard promised $763 million in new government spending over the next four years. It’s lucky she didn’t make that same offer to the other 148 MPs. If she did there’d be $14 billion of new spending for this year alone.

It could be worse. Tony Abbott allegedly promised one MP a billion dollars for a hospital.

But! to cheer you up – Kelsey Grammer’s Rightnetwork has launched! We told you about it back in April. Here’s the site. My favourite show is Running, a series about candidates standing for the November elections.

Chris Berg’s op-ed in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday on government agencies eroding our civil liberties has provoked lots of feedback. In America the Heritage Foundation runs ‘Overcriminalized.com‘. It tracks new laws like:

The latest edition of City Journal from the Manhattan Institute has some wonderful articles including this and this. And this review of the latest swathe of books about the GFC – if anyone ever tells you it was the ‘free market’ that caused the GFC, get them to read it.

In Saturday’s Herald Sun, Alan Moran said government was mismanaging water. In The Sunday Age, Chris Berg talked about fighting climate change, and on The Drum yesterday he said minority government was not all bad. In The Age yesterday, Tim Wilson talked about the future for the libs. And in the AFR last Friday, I wondered why we need government.

PS – Rodney Hide, Leader of the ACT New Zealand Party will be in Australia as a guest of the IPA to launch Bob Carter’s new book in Melbourne and Sydney. Details here. And we’ve got James Bennett of the Anglosphere Institute talking at the IPA next month – details here.

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A billion dollar school

September 2, 2010

Seriously, how could a school cost $578 million? Only in California. It was meant to cost $400m. At least they didn’t do a BER. Here’s the story of the library in Cooma in NSW costing 3 times the original estimate of $285,000. Imagine. If we sent NSW bureaucrats to America, California could have had its first billion dollar school.

We’re now going to have a parliamentary enquiry into a carbon tax. It could investigate the collapse of the carbon price in Chicago.

The plummeting price of carbon demonstrates US carbon traders think the chances of an American ‘cap and trade’ scheme anytime soon are practically zero.

Here electricity prices are going up and up and up thanks to ‘renewable energy targets’. Here’s what the boss of one of the country’s biggest energy companies said about them yesterday. The IPA’s Alan Moran has written about the real cost of renewable energy here and here.

(The average household uses about 9 MWh (Megawatt Hours) of electricity a year. The cost of generating 1 MWh conventionally is under $40. The cost from a wind farm is $125 per MWh and from solar is over $400 per MWh)

Here’s a nice analysis in The Australian on Monday from Michael Stutchbury of the policy craziness engulfing Canberra. And from yesterday’s Australian Literary Review Geoffrey Blainey reviews a new biography of the historian Keith Hancock. Hancock’s 1930 book Australia is of course one of the IPA’s 100 Great Books of Liberty.

With September upon us, Reason TV has announced August’s Nanny of the Month.

If you’re reading this you’re one of the 54% of Australians who have heard of us. Yep – we did a poll to find out. Here’s Andrew Norton’s discussion of the results.

In Friday’s Australian, Sinclair Davidson argued for an independent budget office. In The Drum on Tuesday, Chris Berg said that reforming the states was not a bad idea, and on Wednesday, Tim Wilson said that trying to fight rising living costs was making things worse. In Wednesday’s AFR, Alan Moran warned of an ALP-Green government.

PS: The IPA’s Tim Wilson will be speaking at Creative Innovation 2010, a conference on leadership and creativity. Speakers include Edward de Bono, Edward Luttwak and Paul McNamee. You can get a 10% discount here - log in with the username ci2010 and the password imagine.

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