Do androids dream of electric tax forms?

February 23, 2017

From Peter Gregory

Public sector wages have increased more than private sector wages in 8 out of 9 quarters since December 2014:

Would that pass the pub test? In November the IPA’s Aaron Lane wrote that the demands of the public sector unions certainly wouldn’t in a SMH piece the National Secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union described as…wait for it…”dodgy“.

Today the Fair Work Commission reduced penalty rates – read what Aaron said about the move on

The two pieces you need to read about the Georges River College controversy this week are the IPA’s Dr Bella d’Abrera in The Daily Telegraph and Kevin Donnelly in The Australian, both on Tuesday.

(If you haven’t yet read Kevin Donnelly’s The Culture of Freedom – a monograph published by the IPA for our Foundations of Western Civilisation Program – copies can be purchased here.)

In light of these events, Michael Novak’s 1995 article about the danger of identity politics trumping our common humanity is more important than ever. Sadly, the great American Catholic social philosopher died on Friday. His journey to becoming one of the world’s foremost advocates of the moral case for economic freedom was outlined by William Grimes in this excellent New York Times obituary on Sunday.

Speaking of the moral case for economic freedom, Australia has remained 5th on the Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom (despite the growth in public sector wages), released this week.

Last week, the US Congress launched an inquiry into the explosive allegations that world leaders were misled on climate data by America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As reported on Watts Up With That?, yesterday Professor Judith Curry released this important 30 page essay on the flawed computer modelling on which climate predictions are made.

On Monday, Bill Gates said of robots that replace human workers, “you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level“. Clearly Bill Gates has been listening to the ALP talk of a Warren Buffett tax this week.

This issue has divided the IPA office. The wonderfully fat English footballer forced to resign for eating a pie while his semi-professional Sutton United played Arsenal in the FA Cup because doing so breached gambling rules. The Guardian’s excellent football section has published pieces for and against. I am against – let the man eat.

Article of the week

On Friday, Bryan Curtis at The Ringer wrote this excellent long 3,400 piece entitled ‘Sportswriting has become a liberal profession – here’s how it happened‘. Is nowhere safe? Is the future just a football boot stamping on a human face – forever?

IPA Staff Pick:

Each week an IPA staff member shares what they have enjoyed recently. Today: Scott Hargreaves

In National Review on Friday former IPA guest George Weigel penned a fascinating insight into Michael Novak’s exceptional personal qualities.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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

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Free speech on campus is [Censored]

February 16, 2017

From Morgan Begg

Each Australian will owe approximately $23,500 in Commonwealth gross debt per person by 2020:

As reported in The Australian yesterday, Australia’s gross public debt is set to explode to more than $600 billion within the next three years.

The state of free speech at universities in the UK is getting worse. That’s the finding from Spiked’s2017 Free Speech University Rankings, which found 63.5% of UK universities are ranked ‘Red’ for actively banning speakers, materials and ideas. We could only aspire to those numbers: a similar study by the IPA’s Matthew Lesh in 2016 found 79% of Australian universities carried the same Red ranking.

In a fit of panic about Trump’s election victory, progressives are finally bothering to read George Orwell’s 1984, sending it to the top of bestseller lists. They’re in for a shock – as Brendan O’Neill explained on Reason on Friday – the novel’s dystopian regime resembles not the Trump presidency, but the Left’s own PC authoritarianism.

Taxi drivers in Melbourne blockaded the Bolte Bridge on Monday because they think a $453m compensation package for legalising Uber isn’t enough. As the IPA’s Darcy Allen explained in the Herald Sun on Wednesday, the taxi industry has been receiving compensation for decades from governments banning their competition and letting them charge monopoly prices.

If you think energy security isn’t an important issue, just read what Emma Godfrey from Mylor said about why she was “nervous about buying bulk meat” following multiple blackouts in South Australia.

With the closure of the massive Hazelwood power station next month, the Australian Energy Market Operator says the system will be under even greater strain. This is why the IPA on Friday published ‘5 reasons to abolish the RET‘ – the first in a series of Parliamentary Research Briefs that will be sent directly to politicians each fortnight.

Dan Hannan, a chief architect of Brexit, was the special guest on Tom Switzer’s Behind the Lines last Thursday night, on how Brexit was won and what lies ahead for Europe and the UK.

If you were planning on donating to support Alex Wood’s legal defence costs from the 18C case against him and other QUT students last year, you’re too late! In just 11 days, Alex reached his goal of $54,300 – thanks to everyone that contributed. And if you’re not one of the 100,000 people that has already watched the IPA’s video about the QUT case, click here.

Article of the week:

Arthur Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute, penned this thoughtful 4,300 word essay for the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs on the ‘dignity deficit‘. Brooks explains how LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty’ crushed the dignity of work and created a crisis of hopelessness across America, particularly in those areas that most recently voted for Trump in huge numbers.

IPA Staff Pick:

Each week an IPA staff member shares what they have enjoyed recently. Today: John Roskam.

I’ve been reading the terrific and thought-provoking book by Nick Spencer, The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped our Values. Reserve Bank board member Ian Harper wrote an excellent review for ICAST on Wednesday, while The Economist also – surprisingly – has a good review of the book from November (This is a welcome change from the standard fare offered by The Economist. Former federal ALP MP Bob Catley explained at The Spectator in January why he doesn’t bother reading the magazine anymore).

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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But what do young Australians think of the Super Bowl ads?

February 9, 2017

From James Bolt

Maybe my generation isn’t terrible after all. 60% of young Australians want to start their own business:

And 66% of young Australians think cutting government spending will help the economy, while only 22% think it will hurt:

That’s from our report Growing Freedom: Survey of Young Australians, which we released in December.

Young Australians wanting to start their own business should follow the money and get into construction. As featured on last week, IPA research found that construction costs in Melbourne is the second highest in the world – trailing only New York. The Project featured our report in this insightful segment on Friday, which interviewed the report’s author IPA Adjunct Fellow Gideon Rozner.

Australia needs to follow Donald Trump’s example on red tape – for every new piece of red tape introduced, two others need to be removed. Watch IPA Policy Director Simon Breheny explain how this idea would revolutionise the Australian economy on Sky News Politics HQ on Sunday.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists used unverified data in a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of a landmark report on climate change issued just before the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. On Sunday, Dr John Bates, who led NOAA’s climate-data records program for 10 years, revealed these explosive truths in The Daily Mail.

Donald Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos to education secretary is the major political story in America this week. Read this 1,500 word article by Nick Gillespie on Reason from Tuesday on why the issue isn’t Betsy DeVos – it’s that school choice and charter schools are on the rise in America and Democrats can’t suppress it any longer. Back in 2012, the IPA’s Peter Gregory explained in the IPA Review the many benefits of charter schools.

Fuelling the outrage at DeVos’ appointment is this fake news story against her. It is number 7 on this list The Federalist compiled on Monday of 16 fake news stories about Donald Trump and his team since the election.

It’s only February but the Greens have given us our favourite compliment of the year. Senator Nick McKim (Grn-Tas) said to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights “if the IPA and The Australian did not exist I do not think anyone would have heard of 18C“. Watch our highlights package of our Facebook Live broadcast of the IPA’s Simon Breheny and Chris Berg’s appearance at the Committee hearing in Melbourne on Tuesday last week.

This is being shared all over Facebook – you have to watch it. Former progressive Dave Rubin explains that progressives no longer support free speech, freedom of religion and equality in this fantastic new short film called ‘Why I left the Left‘ from PragerU on Monday.

Every year I take the day off to watch the Super Bowl, and this year’s was the best NFL match I have ever seen (honestly, this catch…) – but everyone at the IPA office just asks me about the ads. Here’s a list of the seven best ads and the three worst. Their pick for the worst one did more damage to the US-Australia friendship than any phone call ever could.

Article of the week:

As that Daily Mail story about the NOAA shows, science is mixing with politics to a dangerous degree. The great Matt Ridley in The Times on Monday explains why Dr John Bates’ revelations are so damaging, and why politics and science must be kept separate.

IPA Staff Pick:

Each week an IPA staff member shares what they have enjoyed recently. Today: Andrew Bushnell.

One of the most compelling, and controversial, articles written in defence of Donald Trump’s candidature was the 4,200 word essay, ‘The Flight 93 Election‘ from the Claremont Review of Books in September. The article argues how the stakes of the election were nothing less than the survival of the United States and Western Civilisation itself. The essay is being revisited this week after it was revealed the pseudonymous author is now a staffer in the Trump administration.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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You call that a niche?

February 2, 2017

From Peter Gregory

95% of Australians say freedom of speech is important to them. That’s one helluva niche issue:

That’s the major finding of the Galaxy poll the IPA commissioned, covered on the front page of The Australian on Tuesday:

For the full findings and data from the poll, click here.

The IPA’s Dr Chris Berg and Simon Breheny presented the case to repeal 18C to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in Melbourne on Tuesday. The IPA’s Facebook Live stream of their appearance has been watched by over 2,300 people – watch the highlights package here, the full version here, and read the IPA’s written submission here.

Here are the three best pieces from around the world written over the break:

For everything you need to know about Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s new appointment to the US Supreme Court, read this piece from Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review on Tuesday. And for everything you need to know about Donald Trump’s executive order on red tape, read this blog post in Reason from Monday.

Donald Trump must have read the IPA’s Deborah Sims’ piece about medication regulation in the IPA Review. He announced on Tuesday that he wants to speed up the approvals process for new drugs in the US (Trump also probably read my piece in The Australian Financial in November 2014 about the US Food and Drug Administration and Ebola).

You might have noticed an uptick in political outrage on your Facebook newsfeed recently. On Wednesday in The Federalist, Bethany Mandel made the big call: ‘Facebook dead at 12, a victim of 2016‘.

Too bad Mandel deleted Facebook – she missed the IPA’s Dr Bella d’Abrera’s piece in The Spectator Australia about Australia Day which received 75,000 views on the IPA’s Facebook page.

And claims 2016 was ‘the hottest on record’ have been questioned by scientists on RealClearInvestigations on Sunday.

If you’re in Melbourne next Wednesday, you can’t miss the HR Nicholls Society’s night with former Treasurer Peter Costello – details here. And in Melbourne from 24-26 March our friends at the CIS are holding the Liberty and Society Student Conference 2017 – details here.

Article of the week:

On Monday, Dan Hannan had this excellent piece in the Washington Examiner about the left’s love of fake news.

IPA Staff Pick:

Each week an IPA staff member shares what they have enjoyed recently. Today: Dr Bella d’Abrera

Over Christmas I read Robert Tombs’ The English and their History published in 2014. Tombs’ achievement is to be able to present the unique history of the English from the Saxon settlement to the present day in an engaging and even-handed manner.

Here’s some of the highlights of what the IPA said over the break:

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