What’s in a name?

August 30, 2012

From James Paterson

This has got to be the understatement of the week:

“The officer concerned had misinterpreted the law involved regarding the definition of a vehicle.” That’s how WA police explained why a woman was fined for talking on her mobile whilst…pushing a pram.

I wish I could make up fake Nanny State stories as crazy as that real one. I also wish I could think of more ridiculous examples of political correctness than a school in Nebraska telling a deaf three year old boy to change his name because of their weapons policy, but…I just can’t. (See if you can guess his name before you click the link).

And I really wish I could think of a more creative reason to take personal leave from work than the suggestion in this real submission to a real government inquiry. It’s from the Cat Alliance of Australia.

But here’s some really serious policy suggestions. The cover story for this month’s IPA Review contains 75 radical ideas we want Tony Abbott to take up as prime minister.

A fascinating report into philanthropic giving in the United States was released this month. The list of the most generous cities in America might surprise you. But not once you’ve read this great post from Cato scholar Dan Mitchell, ‘Left-wingers are only generous with other people’s money’.

It turns out American conservatives don’t just give more to charity – they also read more. This amazing infographic from Amazon is depressing viewing for an Obama supporter – if Americans vote the same way they buy books, he’ll only win five states!

The Republican National Convention is underway this week in Tampa, Florida. Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan just delivered his acceptance speech – watch it here.

Some excellent longer reading: Amir Taheri in the latest edition of Standpoint on why we should be optimistic about Iraq, and this piece from the Guardian last week on the scary new generation of Conservative MPs (they actually support free markets!).

Next Monday is Australian National Flag Day. Here’s some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the flag.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Lucky Tim Flannery isn’t Dutch

August 23, 2012

From James Paterson

Question: how do you know when a government has too many bureaucrats and too much money? Answer: when they start looking for mythical creatures. Once the Victorian government has discovered big cats, maybe then they can start looking for the Bunyip or the Drop bear.

But at least they don’t employ any horseshoers like the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (as far as we know).

This week everyone is talking about Niall Ferguson’s anti-Obama cover story from Newsweek. Many on the left did not appreciate it. Ferguson fired back. Niall is good, but he didn’t quite make this great list of the top 10 conservative commentators.

In the last edition of the IPA Review we ranked the top 20 pro-freedom films. Readers felt we missed a few! Here’s the five most popular suggestions, published in the current issue.

This article on Slate has to be read to be believed: “Let’s Nationalize Facebook“. What’s next, nationalising Hey? Of course, governments only buy things that are about to die, as Michael Wolff predicts of Facebook.

Here’s something that will probably surprise you (or not): Australia’s banks are worth more than all of Europe’s, combined. Check out the amazing graphs from The Atlantic last week.

The federal government is currently considering sweeping new national security powers. Click here to read the IPA’s submission on why the proposed new laws are unnecessary and excessive.

And how’s this for draconian? The Netherlands wants to fine people for faulty weather forecasts. Lucky Tim Flannery isn’t Dutch.

Finally, a great long piece from the September issue of Wired by Matt Ridley, on why the world is not about to end, and why there’s no need to worry about the future. And this recent profile on the rise and fall of Bo Xilai in the Financial Times magazine is a fascinating insight into the Chinese Communist Party.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Usain Bolt…freedom fighter

August 16, 2012

From James Paterson

Turns out Usain Bolt is not just the fastest man alive. He’s also a freedom fighter.

Two weeks ago we told you taxpayers weren’t likely to get value for money at the Olympics. Now the games are over, the chart doesn’t look much better. But there is one country in the world with no national sport funding and no national minister for sport. They did ok in the medal tally.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales once said he got 10 emails per week from students who failed because they cited his website in their essays. Of course, that doesn’t stop academics themselves from relying very heavily on it, as these 985 articles on The Conversation show. This graph, sent in by an IPA member, suggests they should be more cautious:

(And if you don’t know who Optimus Prime is, here’s his Wikipedia entry, complete with 187 references.)

The IPA Review is out this week. Here’s a sneak preview of the front cover. And here’s Christian Kerr’s timely piece on why the Nanny State is bad politics and bad policy.

On Saturday Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Dan Hannan’s happy. So is Mark Steyn. This great long profile in the Weekly Standard explains how he masterminded the intellectual takeover of the Republican Party. Free Beacon lists his five best speeches. But this satirical article from The Onion probably introduces him best.

If you’re still looking for some good long reads, this piece from the current issue of Foreign Policy on why travel writers love dictators is fascinating. So is John Taylor’s speech, published in the City Journal on why Hayek still matters.

If you’re in Sydney you should try to get along to this Spectator Australia debate, Kevin Rudd must lead Labor featuring Janet Albrechtsen and Mark Latham.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Free markets are going mainstream

August 9, 2012

From James Paterson

This week the IPA and its members had a big win. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promised to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (used against Andrew Bolt) and to oppose any new regulation of the media. The video of his address to the IPA in Sydney is now available online. Chris Berg has a round up of responses to the speech.

(No prizes for guessing how SBS felt about the speech, given their choice of photo.)

Last week Hey readers were fascinated to read why Rowan Atkinson’s brother thought the Olympic opening ceremony was left wing. Turns out Rowan himself is a staunch defender of freedom of speech. Click here and here to see why.

And while we are still on the Olympic theme, this is a great list: the 12 weirdest Olympic events in history. But they missed the weirdest event of all – poetry! Meanwhile, an Australian newspaper has earned the ire of the Hermit Kingdom for this cheeky medal tally.

Obviously police in Geelong, Victoria have locked up all the serious criminals. That’s the only way to explain their ‘Operation Double Jeopardy’, targeting…swearing parents. What’s next, sentencing parents to community service for letting their kids draw with chalk?

You know free markets are going mainstream (or America’s debt problem is getting really serious) when even Barack Obama’s former budget director says privatising the US postal service is a good idea. And poor old California – Facebook’s falling stock price just blew a hole in their already debt-ridden budget.

Of course, things are much worse in Europe than America. Reason magazine lists the five major culprits.

The next edition of the IPA Review is out next week. In the meantime, enjoy these two great articles from the last edition – Richard Allsop on The Slap and John Shipp’s review of On China by Henry Kissinger.

And this is a wonderful long piece from Jonah Goldberg in the Claremont Review of Books on why American conservatives got off track during the Cold War.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Institute of Public Affairs | Level 2 | 410 Collins Street | Melbourne | Victoria | 3000 | Australia

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