The Dutch Courage of defeated politicians

March 31, 2011

Why do we have to wait for politicians to lose before they tell the truth? Former NSW minister Frank Sartor now says that ‘public sector workers in this state are on clover‘!

Well… yeah! Public sector workers earn about $11,500 more per year on average than workers in the private sector according to ABS data and IPA analysis.

If you didn’t read it in 2008 you have to check out Paul Keating’s letter to opposition leader John Robertson (it’s a cracker).

Here’s what the IPA’s Julie Novak said about the problems in the NSW state government in Online Opinion last week, and the IPA’s Richard Allsop explained how to fix NSW’s transport problems on Friday.

But at least NSW isn’t as stuffed as America is. Here’s John Roskam’s controversial piece on the financial decline of the US. And then there’s this fascinating piece from The Wall Street Journal over the weekend on how relying on the rich to prop up US state budgets is all well and good until those rich people run out of money… who’d have guessed that taxing the rich has negative consequences?

Did you see Media Watch’s attack on free speech last week? (You can view it here.) Media Watch wants the commercial radio code of practice to be used as a political weapon against climate change sceptics. (But not against anybody else! Hmmmm…) Here’s what I wrote on the ABC’s The Drum on Monday about this attack on public debate. (Here’s what Media Watch said in response this morning.)

And you think Australian politicians have their priorities screwy? Read this fantastic piece in The Economist on a ‘People’s Policy Forum’ in the UK. Here’s what one of my favourite bloggers, the Spectator’s Alex Massie, had to say about it.

There’s a great list of events lined up for the next few months. Former Keating minister and former IPA Research Fellow, Gary Johns, is launching his new book, Aboriginal Self-Determination: The Whiteman’s Dream, in Brisbane on 27 April, with Mal Brough, and in Melbourne on 2 May, with Andrew Bolt. And it’s not too late to get into the HR Nicholls Society conference, held in Melbourne tomorrow and Saturday – the details are here.

Also: mark this in your diary – the IPA and Mannkal Economic Education Foundation’s The Genius of Western Civilisation symposium in Melbourne, Friday June 24. One big day. 20 great speakers – including the historian Andrew Roberts (author of The Storm of War and Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership), Michael Lawrinsky, John Hirst, Sally Warhaft, Rabbi Shimon Cowen, Greg Melleuish, Claudio Veliz, Richard Allsop, Jake Niall, Ron Manners, Paul Forgasz, David Daintree, Giles Auty, Cassandra Wilkinson, John Roskam, John Carroll, Michael Duffy, Peter Craven, Ian Harper, Julie Novak. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the weeks ahead.

If you can’t wait until next Thursday for what you may have missed, become a fan of the IPA on Facebook and stay up to date with our news and views and join the conversation.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Chalk for toddlers – a health hazard!

March 24, 2011

Remember how in 2008 former NSW premier Bob Carr said state governments would end up like ‘county councils‘ because Canberra was taking all their powers?

Well if the states are doing less why are they taking more of our money?

Here’s some new research from the IPA’s Julie Novak:

The Weekend Australian covered some other IPA research by Asher Judah on how government is funding activist environmental groups who then campaign against the government.

Last week I mentioned a consumers’ organisation doesn’t like cheap milk (unlike the IPA). But it seems the same organisation is OK with cheap beer!

We haven’t done any Nanny State stories for a while – so here’s two that have appeared this week and they’re both from Melbourne.

The first is about how someone got arrested for picking up some hard rubbish off the nature strip. But the best bit is there’s actually an academic who’s done a whole lot of research studying community attitudes to hard rubbish. Yes – really.

The second is about a cafe owner who has been told she can’t give chalk to toddlers because drawing on the pavement is a health hazard (apparently).

Want more on what’s happening in Wisconsin? (Don’t we all?) Here’s a good Heritage Foundation video on Collective Bargaining 101.

And this is the op-ed everyone is talking about this week. It’s by George Monbiot in The Guardian on Monday saying the Japanese earthquake makes him more supportive of nuclear power. It’s quite a change: here’s his famous piece from 2000 where he rejects nuclear.

Finally – just two days after I’ve written to every politician in the country (all 824 of them) about how the national curriculum ignores Western Civilisation – the prime minister comes out and says students should learn Bible stories. Maybe she should read my letter. You can – it’s here (all 12 pages of it).

Here’s what the IPA said this week:

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Trust me. You don’t really want cheap milk

March 17, 2011

Here’s a quick quiz – will a carbon tax:

a) change our way of life
b) not change our way of life.

Yep – you guessed it. It’s a trick question. The correct response is a) and b).

According to the government climate change Green Paper from 2008 a price on emissions ‘will change the things we produce, the way we produce them, and the things we buy’.

To me that pretty much says our way of life will change. Ah – but then last week Mark Dreyfus, the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, said it was an ‘outlandish misstatement’ and a ‘wild claim’ to say that the carbon tax ‘will change your way of life’…mmm…

I’ll tell you what else would change our way of life. No electricity. Which is what Britain is facing according to what the head of its power network said two weeks ago.

The irrepressible Dan Hannan had this piece in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal. It starts with the great lines:

On a U.S. talk-radio show recently, I was asked what I thought about the notion that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. “Pah!” I replied. “Your president was plainly born in Brussels.”

Hannan made his name with this famous speech in the European Parliament in 2009 which we told you about at the time. Rand Paul might have been channelling Hannan at this US Senate hearing a few days ago.

The IPA’s Chris Berg was mired in controversy after his Sunday Age column said cheap milk was good. Yep – while the rest of the world struggles with higher food prices, Australia’s ‘consumer’ association complains milk doesn’t cost enough!

One of the most talked about economics books of the year (as The Economist magazine says) is Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation – How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better. Its topic is one of the biggest economics issues in America – why wages have stagnated since the 1970s. Also read this about it.

And brand new on the IPA website: a profile on Andrew Bolt from January’s IPA Review.

Here’s what the IPA said this week:

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Clive James on fires, floods and fools

March 10, 2011

If you’re still looking for explanations for the rise of the Tea Party in America … here’s another one:

No wonder the head of the US military, Admiral Mike Mullen, said in August last year the biggest security threat isn’t China or the Middle East – it’s his country’s budget. Here’s the report and here’s the video of his speech.

Talking of the Tea Party, it’s just over two years since CNBC’s Rick Santelli delivered this famous rant that helped give birth to the Tea Party on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

According to filmmaker Michael Moore the problem is the rich are too rich. Yes – really. Here’s the coverage from The Daily Beast on Monday. Here’s Reason’s response.

The Spanish solution to saving money is to cut speed limits for cars – this is from the BBC on Tuesday.

On Bloomberg on Tuesday the incomparable Amity Shlaes had this interesting piece on what Alan Greenspan says we can learn from Ayn Rand.

And back in Australia – this is what everyone’s been talking about. The Clive James essay on floods, fire, and climate change from the March edition of Standpoint magazine. It was reprinted in The Weekend Australian on Saturday.

Here’s what the IPA said this week:

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