Communism, for all its faults…

December 22, 2011

From John Roskam

Here’s what the 19,671 regular readers of Hey liked the most this year:

And to see the global superstar Mark Steyn IN PERSON book right now. Melbourne: Monday 27 February, CQ, Queen Street from 5.30pm, book here. Sydney: with Spectator Australia, Wednesday 29 February, details to come. Brisbane: Friday 2 March, Tattersalls Club, Queen Street from 5.30pm, book here.

The famous Dan Hannan versus Gordon Brown showdown in the European Parliament (2,847,636 views) would have made it into the list – except it was in 2009! See Hannan in the flesh in Sydney on Tuesday 21 February, City Tattersalls Club, Pitt Street from 5.30pm. RSVP here. And Melbourne on Friday 24 February, Sofitel, Collins Street from 5.30pm. RSVP here.

And here’s what Hey readers had no interest in this year:

My personal Hey favourites were:

Since when has semi-socialist Norway become the idea Australia should aspire to? Apparently we should copy their sovereign wealth fund idea. Maybe we could also copy their law to arrest people for importing…wait for it…butter. Here and here is what the IPA thinks of sovereign wealth funds.

And it’s fitting that in the last Hey of 2011 I tell you about the most stupid, dishonest, and ignorant thing I’ve read all year. It was in Monday’s Guardian (where else?) on the death of Václav Havel. Read these two sentences and think about them for a moment:

‘Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.’

Excuse me?! …’communism, for all its faults…’ Then again The Guardian is still only 50/50 on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Here’s one of my all-time favourite Christopher Hitchens articles, from Vanity Fair in February 2004 – on Michael Bloomberg’s Nanny State.

And if you want to know what I really think of Europe read my column from last Friday’s Australian Financial Review.

This is the last Hey for 2011. We’re back in January. Have a Merry Christmas.

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A truly historic ‘Hey’

December 15, 2011

From John Roskam

Historically, the history of international climate negotiations has been…historic. How do we know?  Because the media and politicians say so:

The IPA’s Tim Wilson was in Durban. Read his historic take on history in the making in The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.

Here’s something that truly is historic. The IPA is bringing Dan Hannan and Mark Steyn to Australia in February. Next week in Hey I’ll tell you how you can book for their public events.

To get you in the mood here’s Hannan in the European Parliament a few days ago on the real meaning of Fiscal Union. Warning – it’s very funny. And here’s Steyn on Friday about Obama’s Kansas speech. Also funny.

The best two recent pieces on Europe are Niall Ferguson last Friday, and Boris Johnson on Monday. Imagine Boris as PM! Toby Young did in this piece in the UK Spectator.

Here’s something to tell your lefty, sandal-wearing, bearded uncle at the family Christmas Party when he comes out with ‘the Occupy Movement speaks for us all!’ No it doesn’t. Not according to this new Gallup poll in America released a few days ago.

It’s the end of the year – you know what that means – lots of lists! Here’s The Economist’s best books of 2011.

And the best book I read this year? Norman Stone’s The Atlantic and its Enemies: A Personal History of the Cold War. How could you not read a book reviewed with this headline – ‘I’m not a nasty person‘.

Last week the IPA’s new monthly email digest of our Foundations of Western Civilisation Program went out to IPA members. To read it and to learn about Tacitus click here.

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You’re probably a war criminal

December 8, 2011

From John Roskam

We’ve dispatched the IPA’s Tim Wilson to the climate change talks in Durban, South Africa. He took this photo of some posters on a shipping container. I think it speaks for itself…

Watch this advertisement for Nando’s chicken. It’s got Robert Mugabe in it. It was pulled a few days ago after friends of the totalitarian dictator started threatening Nando’s staff. Yes. Really.

Oh, and do you play video games? You should stop. The Red Cross says that might make you a war criminal.

And you all HAVE to promise me you won’t tell Julia Gillard about this proposal to tax native English speakers to advance equality (I thought it was a joke – but it’s not – it’s an academic textbook!)

Your taxes now fund a Flannery Centre (you win a visit to it if you find a golden ticket in your organic porridge). Why didn’t some bureaucrat read the IPA Review story on Flannery before spending our money?

Speaking of which, the new IPA Review hits newsstands next week. Read this great story on the history of scientific ALARMS!!! It also features Alan Moran’s review of Mark Steyn’s latest book.

According to this list, Democrats prefer television shows featuring ‘morally murky anti-heroes’ whilst Republicans like ‘work-centred shows.’ That sounds about right.

And this stunning critique of Thomas Keneally by Andrew Roberts in the December issue of Quadrant is a great read. You’ll remember Andrew gave the keynote address at our symposium on Western Civilisation earlier this year.

Foreign Policy magazine has just released their ‘100 Top Global Thinkers of 2011’. I bet you you’ll know about three of them.

P.S. This year, your best Christmas presents are from the IPA – in February 2012 we’re bringing the magnificent Mark Steyn to Australia to defend freedom of speech like he did in this brilliant performance. And because you’ve all been so good, we’re also bringing you Dan Hannan in the very same month! (You’ll remember him from when he called Gordon Brown a ‘Brezhnev-era apparatchik’). Read his portrayal of the corrosive influence of the EU in Standpoint. Stay tuned for event details!

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While you’re at it, repeal the law of gravity as well

December 1, 2011

From John Roskam

Here’s the quote of the week: ‘The law of supply and demand is a lie’. No…it’s not from Bob Brown. It’s from Karlin Granadillo, boss of Hugo Chavez’s price control agency in Venezuela last Friday. But according to actor (and Madonna’s ex-husband) Sean Penn anyone who says Hugo Chavez is a dictator should be jailed.

Ever wondered what’s bigger, the real army or the Tax Army? Now you know – the IPA’s Julie Novak crunched the figures. (The Tax Army is tax office staff, plus a conservative estimate of 10% of lawyers and 25% of accountants doing tax compliance.)

This video ‘Democrats Anonymous’ is pretty funny. And this is an interesting (and long) profile from yesterday’s New York Times Magazine on Mitt Romney and the mechanics of a presidential campaign.

A while ago I told you about Matt Ridley’s wonderful book The Rational Optimist. He has a great blog – talking about things like ‘Mr Darcy’s lack of deodorant’. Now he’s delivered this fantastic lecture in defence of scientific heresy. And then read this from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal on why religions never really die.

The IPA has made postcards explaining the real cost of the carbon tax to business. Here’s Senator Ron Boswell’s press release about it. Try out the calculator for yourself here.

At last some good news on freedom of speech – from Canada. The laws used to prosecute publisher Ezra Levant and our friend Mark Steyn looks set for repeal. Watch this great discussion between Mark and Ezra last week. If you don’t know who Ezra is, watch his amazing performance when dragged before a Canadian Human Rights commission for offending someone. (And if you haven’t already seen the video Mark Steyn specially recorded for the IPA and Andrew Bolt, click here.)

And if you’re going to dress up as Santa Klaus – be careful! Children are not allowed to sit on your lap!!!

A few weeks ago Tim Wilson participated in a great debate hosted by Thought Broker with representatives from the Centre for Independent Studies, Per Capita and the Centre for Policy Development. Watch it here.

We’re launching Ian Plimer’s new book, How to get expelled from school, around the country. Click here to RSVP for the Sydney launch on 12 December and here for the Brisbane launch on 15 December.

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