Insolvent Ireland Imitates Iceland

November 25, 2010

This is why Ireland’s broke.

This is from the Irish government’s own 140 page ‘National Recovery Plan‘ published yesterday.

It is amazing reading.

Here and here are two good articles on how Ireland got into this mess. Here’s Dan Hannan talking about it in the European Parliament on Tuesday.

This video will cheer you up and genuinely make you laugh. Only in California. And only at a climate change conference. (It’s from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s climate change summit). Go to the 3:40 minute mark.

Since 1998 California’s economy has not produced a single new net job (read this piece to know why). It is also nearly broke. Which is why we should be afraid of anyone saying we should adopt their policies.

In the midst of all this if you’re longing for Margaret Thatcher back you can now go to her nightclub in London. Here’s a review of it.

On a serious note, the New Zealand Business Roundtable has just released an important paper by Professor Wolfgang Kasper, What’s Wrong with Neoclassical Orthodoxy? It explains why Keynesian economists get it wrong so consistently, so often.

In The Drum on Monday Sinclair Davidson said he couldn’t take all the credit for climate scepticism. And in The Drum yesterday Richard Allsop defended The Ashes. In The Sunday Age, Chris Berg talked about the  benefits of marriage.

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The Hopping Procession of Echternak

November 18, 2010

Some of you didn’t believe me when I told you last week the Gillard government and Treasury claim tax increases are ‘savings’.

Some of you emailed me asking ‘Do Julia Gillard and Ken Henry really believe the public are that stupid???’ … mmm … let me think … yep – they do.

Here it is in black and white (and a bit of colour):

The Australian Financial Review covered it last week, as did The Weekend Australian - here and here.

What do these things have in common?

They’re all entries on UNESCO’s latest intangible heritage list (yes – there’s such a thing).

This video on ‘Quantitative Easing’ by the US Federal Reserve is brilliant – and very funny. It’s 6 minutes long. It’s already had more than a million hits on YouTube.

For something more serious have a look at this debate: ‘Big government is stifling the American spirit’ with Arthur Laffer, Nouriel Roubini, Laura Tyson, and Phil Gramm.

And Pompeii is in ruins (again). There’s calls for it to be privatised – I couldn’t agree more.  If you own something you tend to look after it. Which is what the IPA said about privatising Tigers in 2007.

Orlando Figes, author of A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, has a new book out on the Crimean War – Crimea: The Last Crusade – reviewed here. (If you’re wondering what odd behaviour the reviewer refers to, you can read more here).

In The Drum yesterday Richard Allsop said there was no quick fix for Victoria’s transport woes, and Chris Berg questioned Green populism. In The Australian on Friday Tom Switzer analysed the US mid-term elections. And in Friday’s AFR I said business was to blame for the current round of bank bashing.

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Beware Gang of Four (school children)

November 11, 2010

I always thought that when governments talk about ‘savings’ they’re cutting spending. Not any more. We’ve now discovered that when the federal government reneges on a commitment to reduce tax it is a ‘savings measure’. I kid you not.

This week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook from Treasury says that to fund the government’s $10 billion ‘Regional Australia Package’ (the price of the Independents supporting Labor) the government will reduce the tax concessions on interest income it had promised.

Here’s the quote (page 130): ‘This change will deliver savings of $730 million…’  Huh?  On that thinking why don’t we just classify every tax increase as a ‘saving’?

The Grattan Institute’s Saul Eslake had this excellent piece in The Age last Wednesday on bank interest rates. As he says – if politicians tell us to change banks because they raise interest rates, does that mean we should change governments when they raise taxes???

It’s been a big few weeks for the Nanny State: a Victorian primary school has banned kids from socialising in groups larger than three, and in the UK a shop assistant refused to sell Christmas bon-bons to a 6 year-old because they are ‘explosives’ (the bon-bons not the kids).

Oh and if you’ve ever wanted to swim the English Channel – tough luck. The French Nanny State wants to stop you.

If you can’t get enough of US politics read this piece by historian Sean Wilentz in The New Republic on Tuesday. I’ve read his books The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln and The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008. They’re pretty good even though he’s a left-leaning, pro-Clinton partisan. Which is why his analysis of Obama is so interesting.

And you have to check out this very funny video by US Presidential ‘candidate’ Hugh Jidette (think about his name long enough and you’ll get it). You can check out his other videos here.

In The Drum last Thursday Alan Moran criticised the Department of Climate Change and in last Friday’s Herald Sun he discussed Australia’s housing problems. In The Australian on Tuesday Sinclair Davidson said Treasury was wrong again and in the AFR Tom Switzer said politics trumped climate change in the US. In today’s Australian Professor Bob Carter argues that An Inconvenient Truth has no place in schools. And Tim Wilson was on the ABC’s The Drum on Monday discussing public campaign financing.

PS – The IPA’s Chris Berg will be debating Rev Tim Costello AO, Michael Short and Waleed Aly on ‘Has Australian democracy become too conservative?’ Information here.

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Pit bulls and plastic bags – and lots of good videos

November 4, 2010

What’s the worst one of these:

a)         selling vodka to a 12 year-old
b)         training a pit bull terrier to attack someone
c)         secretly bugging someone’s telephone
d)         giving away a plastic bag.

Yep – you guessed it. It’s a trick question. They’re all as bad as each other according to the ACT government. They all have the same penalty. The government wants to ban plastic bags and fine shops up to $27,500 if they break the law.

(There’s that great line from the American judge, Louis Brandeis: ‘if we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable’.)

Talking about the Nanny State – San Francisco banned Happy Meals this week.

If you’ve got five minutes and haven’t seen these election ads from America take a look:

In the new IPA Review you can read Tom Switzer on what the Tea Party means for American politics.

But this ad by Nike with LeBron James is what everyone’s watching – a celebration of individualism.  And here’s what it means.

A week ago the Wall Street Journal had this really good article by Matt Ridley on the five mistakes of government regulators. (I talked about something similar a few years back in my Financial Review column.) Ridley is the author of the new book The Rationalist Optimist – you can read the IPA’s review of it here.

In The Drum yesterday and The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, Tom Switzer discussed the resurgence of the Republicans. In The Drum on Wednesday Chris Berg warned of the growing Nanny State, and in The Sunday Age he said there was no reason to fear foreign investment. And in The Australian Financial Review on Friday I said both sides of politics were hooked on government.

PS – if you’re in Sydney this weekend don’t forget the Rule of Law Association Conference.

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