The debt is high but the beer is cheap!

September 27, 2012

From James Paterson

I thought we had problems with free speech in Australia. But just try accusing someone of having the “charisma of a damp rag” and the “appearance of a low-grade bank clerk” in the EU parliament and you’ll be in serious trouble. We wonder how long Winston Churchill would have lasted given these classic insults. (The Clement Atlee ones are my favourite).

Perhaps we should just be thankful the EU isn’t proposing a global ban on criticising religion, like the UN. The IPA’s Simon Breheny responded to this crazy idea yesterday on The Punch. It’s nice to see even Barack Obama agrees with the IPA. Well…mostly.

Last week we told you Australia outranked the United States in economic freedom. But on one important measure they’re way ahead – how much work it takes to buy a beer. Aussie Nanny Staters probably think that’s a great thing – but it isn’t if you’re worried about surviving a nuclear war.

The second instalment of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy is out in the US next month. You’ll love the trailer. And this interview with the producers explains why America needs to watch this movie. (If you think America’s doing fine, try this amazing debt-calculator. US Debt increased by $428,674,564 in the time it took us to write Hey).

Here’s some great long reads: this month’s New Yorker on the invention of political consulting and the October edition of Vanity Fair on how the $5 billion James Bond franchise was created. (The latest Bond, Skyfall, is out in Australia this November).

And finally for some good news. Hayekians are winning the ideological war in China says The Economist, India is embracing free market reform and a new private city in Honduras aims to be the “most economically free entity on Earth“.

If you’re in Melbourne next Thursday you might like to attend the launch of Kevin Andrews’ new book with special guest Andrew Bolt.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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The eight dumbest things said about free speech this week

September 20, 2012

From James Paterson

This does not make happy reading for Americans – the US has now dropped to 18th in the world for economic freedom. On Tuesday the Cato and Fraser Institutes released their Economic Freedom of the World report. Australia does better overall at 4th freest, but not on one measure – by size of government we rank 53rd (page 33).

In the US this week they’re talking about two things: Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe (he was sort-of-kinda-right – he might have based his comments on this graph from the Heritage Foundation released earlier this year) and this long sympathetic profile of Barack Obama by Michael Lewis for the October edition of Vanity Fair. If you read it make sure you read this great response by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard. (Whilst we’re talking about Obama, one lobby group is very unhappy with Republicans highlighting his enthusiasm for golf).

But in his Australian Financial Review column last week John Roskam argued maybe it would be a good thing if Barack Obama was re-elected!

Everyone is also talking about freedom of speech. HotAir lists ‘The eight dumbest things said about free speech this week‘ in response to the anti-Islam movie. It’s an amazing list.

You heard it here first! We teased the Victorian government last month for looking for big cats. Well, you’ll be pleased to know your taxes were well spent – they can’t find any.

You’re probably aware that we are very concerned by a federal government proposal to force internet service providers to store two years’ worth of your data in case the police might want to access it one day. And that was before we learnt the ACCC wants to access it too! Read these excerpts of the IPA’s Simon Breheny and Chris Berg testifying before a parliamentary committee against the plans.

Chris Berg is the keynote speaker at an excellent conference on freedom of speech in Perth next month – RSVP and further information available here.

And finally, this would be pretty cool if true: archaeologists might have found the skeleton of King Richard III, under a car park in England. But probably not as cool as this – ‘warp drive’ (like in Star Trek) might be feasible.

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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Do we really want to increase life expectancy?

September 13, 2012

From James Paterson

The NBN is really great and definitely not a waste of taxpayers’ money at all!

(Disclaimer: that sentence may or may not have been ghost-written by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Here’s the article they wanted us to publish in the IPA Review. And here’s their email suggesting we should pretend we wrote it ourselves).

This is probably the most depressing chart you’ll ever see about America. It’s from this great essay in the Wall Street Journal recently on entitlements in the USA. Charles Koch’s article this week in the WSJ on crony capitalism is also a great read.

There’s nothing Hey readers like more than a good Nanny State story so here’s ‘18 examples of the Nanny State gone wild.’ This article in the New York Times about all the stuff banned in California is pretty amusing too.

Why am I not surprised? Apparently there’s no evidence that having your phone on during landing and take-off in a plane endangers anyone. (Which you would know already if you read Chris Berg in the IPA Review in September 2005).

Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems‘ was ranked by Rolling Stone as the 2nd best song of the 00′s. But is it good legal advice? This law professor has the answer. (Warning: it’s a rap song, some bad language).

I wish all academic papers were that practical. But I guess it also is important to know that some music videos feature alcohol – and that pop songs are getting sadder. And these academics aren’t even sure if a longer life expectancy is a good thing.

Our 75 ideas for Tony Abbott continue to stir debate. The Courier-Mail admits we have ‘some eminently sensible ideas‘ and The Punch kindly labels us as ‘smart’ and ‘relatively influential‘. We’ll be adding 25 more in the next edition of the Review – so make sure you join as a member to read them first!

The IPA is currently fundraising to support our research on climate change. Read the email James Delingpole sent to IPA members and supporters this week explaining why we need your donations.

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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Let’s ban profit!

September 6, 2012

From John Roskam

Australian households pay twice as much for electricity as Americans. The Australian Financial Review said today we paid 22.57c per kilowatt-hour in 2010/11 compared to 11.80c in the US.

In fact our electricity prices are about the highest in the developed world. No wonder Julia Gillard wants to have a fight about it.

Yesterday the IPA’s Chris Berg and Simon Breheny told the federal parliamentary inquiry into national security reforms it was bad and dangerous for the government to want to keep track of what you do on the internet. This 6 minute rap video about it is pretty good.

The IPA’s got form fighting Orwellian ideas – here and here is what we said about the Australia Card…in 1986.

Talking of Orwell…I was on the ABC’s Counterpoint on Monday with Professor James Allan talking about freedom of speech in Australia. Hey – I love the ABC! – I still think it should be sold though. Last night on Lateline Tony Jones asked the new ABC chairman what he thought of my suggestion.

The most interesting thing from the Republican Convention last week wasn’t Clint Eastwood’s speech – which Mark Steyn loved – it was this in the Wall Street Journal about the gold standard.

The WSJ also has had this about a book published in 1975 which everyone is now talking about.

And this funny (and extraordinary) video from Peter Schiff is hot off the press from the Democratic Convention yesterday – of course profits should be banned!

You realise everything you’ve ever been told about Enron is wrong don’t you? This 2,000 word piece by a former employee explains.

And Boris Johnson (Bojo to his friends) is warming up to be British PM by telling Croatia they shouldn’t join the EU.

If you’re in Melbourne tonight you can see the IPA’s Tim Wilson debate the future of the ALP.

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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