The economics of The Simpsons

December 16, 2010

Here’s Hey’s ‘best of’ list for 2010.

The 5 most clicked stories:

  1. Jeremy Clarkson buys a farm
  2. IPA forces Treasury to withdraw its stimulus graph
  3. Christine O’Donnell tells America she’s not a witch
  4. Vanity Fair warns of Greeks bearing bonds
  5. The UK ends discrimination against the unreliable.

The 3 most clicked videos:

  1. Hayek vs Keynes rap battle
  2. Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech
  3. Bill Clinton’s speech from The Simpsons.

And the 3 things you had absolutely no interest in whatsoever:

  1. Glenn Beck spruiking The Road to Serfdom
  2. New Zealand cuts taxes
  3. Niall Ferguson’s interview on the ABC.

And lastly – some Christmas reading:

  1. The first in a series of new IPA publications – Cato’s Letters. A short essay by the founder of the ‘Dries’ – John Hyde – on all that’s right (and wrong) with Australia
  2. More on what’s wrong. This important speech last week by Gary Banks, the head of the Productivity Commission
  3. Something to cheer you up. A new academic paper by three economists on what The Simpsons teaches about entrepreneurship (it’s serious).

In The Drum yesterday, Tim Wilson called for more free trade, and in The Weekend Australian he said a climate treaty was a waste of time. In The Drum on Tuesday Chris Berg said an ETS wasn’t reform, in The Sunday Age he argued WikiLeaks was nothing out of the ordinary and in the SMH he talked about the threat of terrorism. In Monday’s Australian Professor Sinclair Davidson said good policy requires more than good intentions. In Friday’s Herald Sun Alan Moran said Murray River irrigators were being short changed. And in Friday’s AFR, I said competitive federalism was good.

Have a nice Christmas and see you next year.

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In which we redesign a 20 cent coin

December 9, 2010

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Australian Taxation Office (yes – I’m excited too…) The Mint has just released this commemorative coin.

But the tax office takes 21.5% of our money. So we thought we’d make the coin more accurate. And we gave it a new slogan too.

You realise that a few months ago in the UK, the Revenue and Customs service suggested all employers pay their employees’ wages direct to the government and then the government would refund those wages to the employees.

Why is the government issuing currency in the first place? Hayek doesn’t know either. Even Jon Stewart is worried about the Fed printing money. You must watch this 3:45 minute clip from two days ago when he tears into Ben Bernanke’s doublespeak.

Here’s Slate on WikiLeaks and the literary creativity of US diplomats.

And if you want to know why The Times thinks Australia lost the cricket – it’s because of the Nanny State and a compressed-air machine for cleaning shoes in an Adelaide golf club.

You’ll remember that a few years ago the IPA’s Professor Sinclair Davidson was one of a handful of economists to say Rudd’s stimulus package was a bad idea – it’s nice the OECD remember Sinclair’s contribution too.  Here’s his submission to the Senate banking inquiry. And you guessed it. He says the obvious – we should allow the free market to work.

If you’re in the mood for a long read on conservative philosophy you’ll enjoy this. It’s a fascinating profile from the December issue of Standpoint of the greatest conservative historian you’ve never of: Maurice Cowley. And after you’ve read that, read this on the most influential conservative philosopher of the 20th century, Michael Oakeshott.

In The Courier Mail today, Tom Switzer said WikiLeaks will breed more government secrecy. And in The Australian Financial Review yesterday Alan Moran said it’s time for Julia Gillard to abandon the carbon tax.

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Hogan’s a hero

December 2, 2010

Climate change policy is now apparently 36% as important as this time last year.

In December 2009, the IPA’s Tim Wilson went to Copenhagen and discovered Kevin Rudd took 114 public servants with him (including someone to carry his suitcases).

This week Tim is in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN climate change conference. There’s only 41 Australian public servants there. That’s still $1 million in business class airfares. Here’s Tim’s piece on Cancun in today’s The Australian.

But the money the Gillard government saved on cutting overseas trips has been spent on increasing the salaries of bureaucrats in the Department of Climate Change.

In today’s Australian Public Service Employment Gazette it’s revealed that 15 department bureaucrats have been promoted – increasing the Department’s wages bill by about $900,000 pa. Four of them, who previously could earn up to $197,000 a year, can now earn up to $242,000. Not bad work if you can get it. I said on Monday that the Victorian state election result had killed a carbon tax.

And of course it’s because of climate change that incandescent light globes are now up there with asbestos and radioactive material on Australia’s list of prohibited imports.

But if you want something really pathetic – watch this 7 minute video advertising Australia’s bid for the FIFA World Cup. Paul Hogan features in the video (5:20 minute mark). Funny, until last week he was an alleged tax cheat pursued by the Australian Crime Commission. Taxpayers spent $10 million prosecuting him – now he’s spruiking for the World Cup?

In September the IPA’s Chris Berg wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald about the Australian Taxation Office’s attack on Hogan’s civil liberties. And last year in The Sunday Age Chris said it would be a financial disaster anyway if Australia got the event. A theme picked up by Gavin Atkins yesterday in The Australian.

One of my favourite blogs, Flowing Data, has this interesting video on voting patterns in America over 90 years. And if you’ve ever wondered what the floor plan of the Stirling Cooper office from Mad Men looks like, they’ve got that covered too. November’s IPA Review featured this piece by Alan Anderson about Mad Men and the Nanny State.

In The Drum yesterday Chris Berg said there was nothing to fear from WikiLeaks. In The Age on Monday Tim Wilson said Ted Baillieu was more Hamer than Kennett. And in Friday’s Australian Financial Review I said we should set our universities free.

P.S. I hope to see you at the IPA’s Christmas Drinks next Wednesday in Melbourne on 8 December with Laurie Oakes. More information here.

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