US stimulus: Is it working yet?

October 28, 2010

This chart from The Economist shows why President Obama is worried about the US mid-term elections on Tuesday.

Unemployment in America is 9.6%. We knew a year ago the stimulus wouldn’t work.

Need more US politics? – try out some of our favourites: The Daily Beast, Real Clear Politics, and Politico.

In Australia, our former PM only has to deal with shoe-throwers. Here’s the video if somehow you haven’t seen it. In The Punch on Tuesday the IPA’s Julie Novak said the bloke could’ve at least been original and chucked a lamington instead.

Organised crime isn’t all bad. ‘7 Ways the Mafia made the US a better place‘ is from Tuesday’s Huffington Post.

My mention of the new book Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 three weeks ago provoked a huge response. John Gray had this review of it in New Stateman last month.

When Mao died in 1976 Malcolm Fraser the then PM said in Parliament Mao had ‘secured the basic necessities of life to China’s people.’ Really? And the famine?

Gough Whitlam said ‘the Chinese people…will take renewed inspiration from the memory of his great achievements.’

It’s so bad we thought you’d like to read it for yourself – we’ve put the Hansard up here. As Gerard Henderson has pointed out only one MP spoke against the consensus – and four MPs walked out before the vote.

This week we released new research on why mining is good for the country: ‘Australia’s Resource Future.’

In The Sunday Age, Chris Berg attacked the illusion of safety, and in The Drum on Tuesday he said the Liberals should be wary of economic populism. And on A Current Affair on Tuesday, Tim Wilson said local councils were out of control.

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It’s not a light globe – it’s a heater that gives off light

October 21, 2010

Here’s more evidence Australians love being told what to do.

Two weeks ago the IPA commissioned Newspoll to ask 1200 people about our electoral system. Here’s what else we found:

We’ve had lots of media on it – here’s our press release and here’s the full data.

This is from the ‘How to Defeat the Nanny State’ files. Siegfried Rotthaeuser sells light globes as heaters to get around the EU ban on incandescent globes. And what’s the answer to schoolkids throwing eggs? Ban ‘em of course! (the eggs that is – not the kids.)

This is from the ‘Why Paul Krugman is Wrong’ files. A great piece from the National Review on why someone so smart is so bad. Here’s Salon’s response on Monday.

If you don’t think armed officers from the Australian Federal Police should go around waking up the children of Paul Hogan’s tax adviser don’t miss the Rule of Law Association’s conference in Sydney next month.

My column in Friday’s Financial Review on big government and big business secrecy was controversial. So it’s nice to see the Coalition and the Greens agreeing with me. In today’s Australian there’s a story on another mining tax cover-up.

In Hey in April we said it was outrageous the government was charging you to take a photo – on Monday the case was taken up by The Age.

And the IPA’s research on skyrocketing electricity prices is backed up by this from the International Energy Agency. The cost of electricity on average around the world increased 3.3% – but in Australia for households it increased 13.6%!

Lots of people have asked me how to get the piece on me from The Zone in The Age last week – just click here.

In The Drum on Tuesday, Chris Berg marvelled at capitalism – IKEA-style. And in The Drum on Monday Alan Moran questioned the real cost of climate change policy.

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Want to be happy? Live in Bhutan

October 14, 2010

Soon you’ll be hearing more about ‘happiness’ research.

Apparently the point is that government shouldn’t worry about economic growth – we don’t need growth to make us ‘happy’. Columbia University economist and adviser to the United Nations Jeffrey Sachs reckons we should be more like Bhutan. Here he is complaining about ‘consumerism’ in today’s Australian.

Bhutan has a ‘Gross National Happiness Commission’ (no – I’m not making that up). But as the IPA’s Julie Novak has pointed out on her blog – Free Market Liberal – the more money you’ve got the happier you tend to be. Here’s her analysis of some global data on wealth and happiness:

This is what she said and Oliver Hartwich said about Bhutan. Would you really want to live there? (If Sachs likes it so much perhaps he should move there.)

I’m at the Mont Pelerin Society Conference in Sydney. There’s a book and an article that everyone’s talking about. The book is Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (here’s a positive review from Spiked and a negative review from The New York Times). The article is ‘America’s Ruling Class’ by Angelo Codevilla from August’s American Spectator.

Here’s all you need to know about this week’s Nobel Prizes for Economics (it’s a left-field angle) and for Literature.

I was profiled in ‘The Zone‘ in The Age on Monday.

And if you missed Rodney Hide’s launch of Bob Carter’s new climate change book – you can read what Rodney said here.

On Monday night on the ABC’s Q&A, former IPA research fellow Jennifer Marohasy will be debating the future of the Murray-Darling Basin with Tim Flannery and Greg Hunt. (Here’s the ‘impartial’ ABC for you: Flannery who has a PhD in palaeontology (dinosaurs) is called a ‘scientist’ on the program website. Marohasy who has a PhD in entomology (insects) isn’t called a ‘scientist’ – she’s called ‘climate sceptic’.)

In the ABC’s The Drum on Monday, Tom Switzer wondered why we’re in Afghanistan at all, and on Tuesday Chris Berg talked about Nobel Prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa.

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Take the stimulus quiz

October 7, 2010

Here’s some research by the IPA’s Julie Novak we released today: Over the last few years, the cost of electricity has gone up nearly four times the rate of inflation!

Between 2005 and 2010 general consumer prices have increased 16%. But electricity prices have gone up:

(You can read our press release here.) All the data is public and you can work it out for yourself – here’s the ABS spreadsheets – Catalogue Number 6401.0 – Table 13.

When banks lift interest rates a fraction of a percent of the RBA rate, the federal Treasurer hits the media and blames them for hurting working families. But where’s the Treasurer when it’s government policy driving up electricity prices? I guess there are good price rises and bad price rises.

Here’s a must-watch video – can you pick which American stimulus programs are real or fake?  Warning – it is very funny. And people wonder why there’s a Tea Party? (Here’s a good overview of the Tea Party.)

Here’s a significant review of the new book on Mao from last month’s Spectator. It makes the point that Mao’s famine-genocide is usually ignored – even by the influential economist Amartya Sen.  (Which reminds me – guess who’s the favourite economist of Treasury secretary Ken Henry? According to Ken “Treasury’s perspective on freedom and opportunity has been heavily influenced” by Sen.)

Here’s something interesting from The Daily Beast in the US – America’s 15 most important economics/business journalists.

In The Sunday Age Chris Berg wondered if free speech was only for the rich, and in The Drum on Wednesday he lamented the expansion of presidential power. Also in Wednesday’s Drum, Julie Novak said GDP wasn’t a perfect measure of living standards. In The Australian on Monday Tim Wilson attacked green protectionism. And in The Australian Financial Review on Friday I said first mover advantage was a furphy.

And from the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program: a sneak preview of Deidre McCloskey’s new book.

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