Piers Akerman – Thursday, June 23, 11 (07:23 pm)
IT’S A-Day in Canberra. Not A for Australia, but A for Assassination.
Miranda Devine – Thursday, June 23, 11 (02:19 pm)
THE extraordinary endorsement by Julia Gillard of a hard left socialist party in Canada is another bombshell to the government’s credibility.
What was she thinking?
Monckton was right to label the behavior. The same behavior is also something that might be labelled as dictatorial, communist, socialist and many other bad words besides. Monckton later apologised and corrected his extended criticism.
Gillard's judgement on this issue is deservedly suspect. It shows a lack of leadership and intelligence,but a strong leaning to ideology which is supposed to be sidelined by responsible leaders. It doesn't mean Gillard is a socialist. It means Gillard is a fool.
At lunch yesterday, Tom Palmer mentioned to me a 1956 essay by the late Ludwig Lachmann entitled “The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth.” It’s in a collection of Lachmann’s essays, edited by Walter Grinder, that I’ve owned now for more than 30 years and read cover-to-cover long ago – but, I confess, I had no recollection of the essay when Tom mentioned it to me yesterday (and none when I re-read it just now).
But, oh my, what a splendid piece of analysis! Here again is a link to it, with my strong encouragement that you read it carefully. It’s quite short, yet original and deeply profound.
In this essay Lachmann argues that the market is constantly redistributing wealth far more productively and fairly than any government efforts on this front. But that’s not the really profound part.
What’s most profound is Lachmann’s clear and compelling explanation of just why it’s the case that wealth in a market economy has constantly to be created and re-created; that it’s never fixed – never an inexhaustible fund that pays out goodies to lucky passive owners.
I’ll perhaps write more about Lachmann’s 1956 essay later; for now I want to further reflect on it, digest it more completely, and share it with you.
Bryan Caplan has been most appropriately and eloquently singing the praises of Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant to America. (And I love Bryan’s apt term “meritocracy without borders.”) (I add also that Bryan and I are both undocumented immigrants; neither Bryan nor I personally received prior official approval from the government of the state of Virginia to move here – me from Louisiana via New York, Bryan from California via New Jersey.)
The point is that both mathematical economics and the verbal kind have their place; neither is intrinsically better than the other; and each can serve as a useful test of the other. A formal model can reveal deficiencies or omissions in a verbal argument; but a few well-chosen words are just as capable of exposing an absurd argument or false assumption lurking in some seemingly innocent equation. The claim that “it takes a model to beat a model” would be just plain goofy were it not so effectively employed by mathematical economists anxious to insulate their work from criticisms by persons who know less math—but perhaps more economics—than they do.
Lots of excellent stuff in the Summer 2011 issue of PERC Reports.
Papering over what Arnold Kling might call patterns of unsustainable specialization and trade is not good policy – a truth that Robert Lenzner reminds us that Hayek pointed out. (HT Matt Cheney)
My Canadian friend Gerry Nicholls has a great new website: FreedomForum.
My GMU colleague (over in the School of Public Policy) Jack High reflects on the role that the rise of big business in late 19th- and early 20th-century America played in the development of economic theory.
Here’s another letter to the Washington Post:
Applauding the NLRB’s attempt to stop Boeing from buying lower-priced labor in South Carolina, Kate Bronfenbrenner writes that “If the NLRB did not take on such cases, it would cede to employers unilateral control over a large swath of the U.S. workplace” (“A good case against Boeing,” June 23).
Does the absence of a government agency empowered to stop grocery shoppers from buying lower-priced groceries at competing supermarkets cede to grocery shoppers unilateral control over a large swath of U.S. supermarkets? Of course not.
In a dynamic market with tens of thousands of employers competing for labor, the notion that even a large employer such as Boeing has “unilateral control” over the labor market unless reined in by government bureaucrats is ridiculous.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Re Kate Bronfenbrenner’s claim that Boeing’s plan to build some jetliners in South Carolina violates federal regulations (“A good case against Boeing,” June 23): whatever is Boeing’s motivation for expanding its operations in lower-wage South Carolina rather than in higher-wage Washington state, its expansion in South Carolina would modify a trend that you frequently insist is unraveling America’s social fabric – namely, growing income ‘inequality.’
By increasing the demand for lower-wage non-unionized workers while decreasing the demand for higher-wage unionized workers, the difference between the annual incomes of each of these groups of workers shrinks. Incomes in America thereby become less ‘unequal.’
As if led by an invisible hand, Boeing is helping to reduce income ‘inequality.’
Donald J. Boudreaux
… is from page 107 of Jacob Viner, Studies in the Theory of International Trade(1937):
A constant note in the writings of the merchants [in early- and mid-18th-century Britain] was the insistence upon the usefulness to the community of trade and the dignity and social value of the trader, and in the eighteenth century it appears to have become common for others than the traders themselves to accept them at their own valuation.
Here we have more evidence for Deirdre McCloskey’s thesis of the “bourgeois revaluation” as explained in her 2010 book Bourgeois Dignity.
Tim Blair – Friday, June 24, 11 (08:30 am)
Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (11:01 am)
Her electricity bill keeps increasing, but Elizabeth Farrelly enjoys the pain:
My usage hasn’t changed. It’s the price that has almost doubled …
My power bill now packs enough of a wallop to make me consider solar. Even counting subsidies, unreliable as they are, it would still take a decade to break even. But it’s good pain, since the upside is knowing I’m doing my bit for the planet.
Which is precisely Ross Garnaut’s argument for a carbon tax. It’s behavioural change stuff. Shifting to renewables is like losing weight or stopping smoking or having your eyebrows waxed or the cellulite ironed out of your thighs. No pain, no gain.
But how is the planet “gaining”? As Elizabeth writes, despite the price increases, her “usage hasn’t changed”. She’s apparently able to make the planet feel better simply by giving more money to electricity companies. It’s all about the symbolism – except for people who might lose their jobs, not that another leftoid cares:
There are about 11.5 million people working in Australia.
About 150 000 of them work in the mining sector.
If half of the miners lost their jobs, Australia wouldn’t notice a thing.
Well, 75,000 miners and their families might notice something – like the fact that they’ve been driven out of work in the name of a carbon reduction scheme that won’t make any difference to the global environment. Still, it’s “good pain”.
UPDATE. “Mate, I’m so glad you picked up on Loopy Lizzy’s latest,” emails James Morrow. “Every single par has a howler.” This one is brilliant:
If the median Australian house price is $470,000, $6000 is a mere 1.2 per cent. Lose one (of four) ensuite bathrooms, a quarter of a home theatre or one (of three) car spaces and you’re done.
As James asks: “Where, pray tell, are you getting four bedrooms with ensuites for $470k?”
Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (10:54 am)
Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (10:15 am)
Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (09:29 am)
Julia Gillard loves Canadian commies, as Miranda Devine reports:
The extraordinary endorsement by Julia Gillard of a hard left socialist party in Canada is another bombshell to the government’s credibility.
What was she thinking?
Dressed in red, and against the backdrop of Parliament House, the Prime Minister wishes the New Democratic Party a happy 50th birthday “on behalf of your friends in the Australian Labor Party and indeed all Australians”.
My personal favourite NDP policy: Fix Ottawa!
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (07:01 am)
Australia’s become very expensive for overseas students, which may be one explanation:
The Bureau of Statistics reports that net migration was just 171,000 in 2010, down sharply from 316,000 in 2008, and the lowest since the bureau changed its measuring system in late 2006.
That’s still a huge increase each year - about the population of Adelaide every three years.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the sharp decline in net overseas migration reflected immigration reforms that had tackled the potential abuse of student visas and shifted the focus to high-value occupations.
But Age reporter Tim Colebatch prefers to smell bigotry:
The figures suggest that the anti-immigration rhetoric of the ALP and the Coalition in the 2010 election campaign has influenced either the way immigration applicants are being assessed, or overseas interest in coming in the first place, or both.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:45 am)
This is getting ugly:
SENIOR Liberals last night accused the party’s four vice-presidents of treachery after they sent out a stinging open letter claiming president Alan Stockdale had failed the party and called for change…
The Australian understands neither Mr Stockdale nor his challenger, Howard government minister Peter Reith, has a clear majority of delegates from any of the eight divisions of the party, other than the ACT, which appears firmly behind the incumbent.
The party’s vice-presidents - former foreign minister Alexander Downer, Victorian businessman Tom Harley, Queensland QC David Russell and West Australian business identity Danielle Blain - took the extraordinary step of trying to influence the outcome yestserday in an open letter.
In their letter, the quartet says: “We know our party can be a great deal stronger and is capable of far better performance. This requires change.”
The letter raises a string of concerns, including governance and the operation of the Liberal federal executive and other party bodies…
Senior Liberals hit back last night, accusing the vice-presidents of treachery and trickery, and challenged their claims. They say the letter was only sent to Liberals after nominations for party positions had closed, and if they had released it earlier they would be facing a rival ticket.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:17 am)
Has any Australian government spent so much to create a monopoly by destroying the competition?
Under a long-anticipated deal announced yesterday, the government will pay Telstra $11 billion to shut down its ageing copper wire network over the next decade and transfer its customers to the NBN.
Optus, Australia’s No. 2 telco, will also receive up to $800 million from taxpayers for dismantling its cable network and moving its 500,000 fixed-line customers to the NBN.
BUSINESS leaders have warned Labor that the National Broadband Network could choke off competition after it was revealed Telstra had agreed it would not promote wireless internet services as a substitute for the $36 billion fibre network for the next 20 years, under an agreement with the government…
Paul Broad, the outgoing chief of the head of the nation’s third-biggest telco, AAPT, said that not being able to promote wireless for a telco was “like asking someone to play football, but telling them they can’t tackle"…
A government-commissioned review of the NBN warned the growing popularity of wireless internet could have a significant impact on the project because some customers would sacrifice speed for the convenience of mobile platforms…
Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the company wanted to “sell to every home firstly fixed broadband voice service and wireless broadband”.
“What we have agreed to do is not to actively promote wireless broadband as a direct substitution for fixed broadband,” Mr Thodey said.
The Government has claimed that wireless, more convenient, is no real substitute for fixed broadband because the demand will exceed the spectrum available, making the service too slow for many users. If that’s so true, it would rely on market forces to limit the competition. not this regulation.
...paying Telstra, and it appears, Optus, to cease providing high-speed data services over their hybrid fibre coax networks is nothing more than the NBN buying itself a monopoly....Far from avoiding needless duplication, the deal merely prevents the fullest use of scarce capital.
Even more appalling is the prohibition on Telstra “promoting wireless services as a substitute for fibre-based services for 20 years”. ... This clause, along with others aimed at preventing those services from competing with the NBN, will therefore not only cement NBN Co’s market power but also impede our access to cutting-edge technologies…
NBN Co will be a government-owned monopoly. Freeing it from competitive disciplines means allowing inefficiency and cronyism to flourish. That the initial sites chosen for the NBN’s deployment are largely marginal electorates is merely a sign of things to come… Billions of dollars have been committed without even the semblance of a cost-benefit analysis, legitimating wasteful public spending decisions more widely…
Even worse, the deal includes break clauses forcing any government that reversed those decisions to make huge payments to Telstra… And to aggravate matters, they make rent-seeking more profitable by obliging future governments to honour their predecessors’ tainted promises
And now those taxpayer billions are committed for good:
Once the ACCC and shareholders tick off on the deal, we will have passed the point of no return for the NBN.
Not in construction terms but in financial. It would simply be too expensive for the opposition in government to unwind or even just to stop at the point it had reached.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:13 am)
Obama was warned that this pullout was too much, too fast:
The top US military officer has said President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is “more aggressive” than he had advised.
Adm Mike Mullen said leaving troops in place was “the safer course”, but added he supported the president’s decision…
President Obama’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus, echoed Mr Mullen’s remarks on Thursday…
”The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended,” Mr Petraeus said, adding that he would stand by the president while he remained commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:11 am)
We’re told there’s no official suspicion of foul play ....
The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:02 am)
WA Premier Colin Barnett keeps the Liberals well ahead of Labor in the latest Newspoll:
The primary vote reveals a considerable gap between the Coalition - 49 per cent to Labor’s 30 per cent - while on a two-party-preferred basis the Coalition retains a 57 per cent to 43 per cent leadover Labor.
COLIN Barnett’s best weapon is Eric Ripper’s recurring nightmare - and her name is Julia Gillard....
Compounding his inability to seriously challenge Barnett in the polls on any local issue, (Opposition Leader) Ripper is also fighting a losing battle against the federal Labor brand, which is generally seen in the west as bordering on incompetent. Bungled attempts to introduce mining taxes and knee-jerk bans on live exports do little to endear them to West Australian voters, who traditionally view Canberra with suspicion and ill will.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (12:05 am)
Burqa-wearing Carnita Matthews, who had her jail sentence quashed after a judge said he couldn’t be sure who’d been under all that cloth, has a charming husband:
Matthews’ husband, Hamdi Abu Ibrahim, sent out the call on his Facebook page this week and later thanked: “ALL THE HERO’S (sic) AND LIONS OF ALLAH WHOM (sic) HAD THE CHANCE TO COME TO THE COURT AND FIGHT FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH ... ALLAH HAS GRANTED YOUR OPPRESSED SISTER VICTORY OVER HIS ENEMIES AND HE GRANTED US A JUDGE THAT FROM THE WORD GO HE WAS DEFENDING YOUR SISTER WHERE EVERYONE ELSE WAS DETERMINED TO SEE HER JAILED, BUT ALLAH HAD OTHER PLANS”.
His Facebook page, with the profile picture of a bloodied fist replaced yesterday by a handcuffed figure in a burqa, has messages from supporters such as: “Allah akbar, may all the pigs burn in hell inshallah”.
It features videos of Osama bin Laden, slurs against infidels and “Kufaars” (non-Muslims), “American pig savages” and “Zionist dogs”.
Last weekend Ibrahim wrote: “YA ZIONIST DOGS THERE WILL BE A DAY VERY SOON THAT YOULL FIND NO SHELTR NOR A WALL TO HIND (sic) BEHIND AND WE WILL EAT YOUR FLESH AND SPIT IT TO OUR DOGS TO CHEW OFF.”
And this: “HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO STAY WEAK, NO MORe MR NICE GUY, WE WILL DEFEND OUR iSLAM AND OUR SISTERS WITH OUR BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD.”
A video also appears with the title “8 US soldiers killed in Iraq” and the message from Ibrahim: “Keep them Comming (sic)”. Another video, since removed, said: “WATCH THE AMERICAN PIGS THE AUSSIE PIGS THE BRITISH PIGS SOLDIERS RAPING YOUR MUSLIM SISTER”.
THE state government is seeking advice on new laws that would extend police powers to ask traffic offenders to remove a face veil for identification....
The Islamic Council of NSW said yesterday ... all Australians, regardless of ethnicity or faith, were required to respect and abide by the law.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (07:20 pm)
It’s a crime that the case even went to court, and much damage is already done:
Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted by a court in Amsterdam where he was on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, has described Islam as a “fascist ideology”, comparing the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He was acquitted on all five charges that were pressed against him.
The judge on Thursday said that Wilders’ statements were “rude and condescending” but not a criminal offence according to Dutch law.
“The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate,” the judge told Wilders, who has been on trial in the Amsterdam regional court since last October.
Wilders has said he has a “problem with Islamic tradition, culture, [and] ideology; not with Muslim people”.
The judge interpreted Wilders’ remarks as challenging Islam as an ideology, which is not a criminal offence in the Netherlands.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (04:08 pm)
Lord Monckton has embarrassed himself and damaged his cause by this offensive attack:
Footage has been posted on the internet of a speech Lord Christopher Monckton gave to a conference in Los Angeles earlier this month.
In it he displayed a Nazi swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut.
Lord Monckton compared statements made by Adolf Hitler to Professor Garnaut’s suggestion that people should accept the mainstream science of climate change.
“That again is a fascist point of view, that you merely accept authority without question. Heil Hitler, on we go,” he said.
Monckton is right to warn against the surrender to argument-by-authority. He is right to warn against the surrender of sovereignty to international bodies claiming to work for “the planet”.
But he’s gone too far in this deeply personal attack and an apology is in order. Without one, it will be unwise for other sceptics to associate themselves with him on his Australian tour.
Let me begin with an unreserved apology. In a recent lecture, I should not have described the opinions of Professor Ross Garnaut, the Australian Government’s climate economist, as “fascist”. I apologize humbly. Will there be similar apologies from those who have called us “climate deniers” or “denialists”, or who say we should be tattooed with our opinions, or imprisoned, or barred from Australia, or tried for “high crimes against humanity”?
But Labor and the media try to convict Tony Abbott through guilt by association, in a transparent attempt to shut down and delegitimise debate:
THE federal government has used question time to stage an attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s links to prominent climate change denier Christopher Monckton…
Lord Monckton will speak at the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) conference in Perth next week - an event that will be opened by Mr Abbott.
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet on Thursday said all respected scientists agreed climate change was a threat. (False - Ed.)
He labelled Lord Monckton an extremist.... “It is unbefitting of a political leader in this country to hold these views and these associations."…
Labor MPs on Thursday called on Mr Abbott to withdraw from the conference but the Liberal Party leader said that while he found Lord Monckton’s comments “offensive and over the top” he would still be attending.
Greens leader Bob Brown said Mr Abbott should “reconsider” his attendance and he called on AMEC to take action....
But AMEC’s CEO Simon Bennison said on Thursday that the conference was hosting a wide range of speakers including those putting the case for action on climate change.
We live in witch-hunting times, and your freedom to speak and dissent is under serious threat.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (03:23 pm)
A terrible sign of a weakness of will and even greater weakness militarily:
Franco Frattini, the foreign minister in Rome, called for an ‘immediate suspension’ of military operations to allow humanitarian aid to be brought to the wartorn country.
He also said military leaders should provide more details about Nato bombing raids following mistakes which led to civilians being killed.
His demand for a ceasefire echoed comments by Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa on Tuesday.
And another retreat, or so it will seem to some:
(President Barack) Obama will announce in a televised address at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT) a plan to pull out 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by year’s end, followed by about 23,000 more by the end of next summer, congressional aides told Reuters.
News that Obama will pull the entire ‘surge’ force he sent to Afghanistan in 2010 caps weeks of speculation about the future of U.S. involvement there and could increase friction between Obama and military advisors who have warned about the perils of a hasty drawdown.
Nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks that triggered the war, U.S. and NATO forces have been unable to deal a decisive blow to the insurgent Taliban. The Afghan government remains weak and notoriously corrupt and billions of dollars in foreign aid efforts have yielded meager results.