[T]he very uncertainty of our ultimate ethical goals dictates a wide area of individual self-determination. We are not able to supply a blueprint of the ideal life, but we are persuaded that even if it were known it would be ideal only for the person who individually and knowingly and voluntarily accepted it.
Dear Mr. M________:
Thanks for your e-mail.
You write “While free trade works when economies are fully employed, tariffs must be used when economies are depressed…. Why do you [Boudreaux] deny this necessity?”
I’m consumed now with other work, so I’ve not the time to reply as fully as I’d like. Here, though, are two quick points:
First, economists widely agree that prolonged high unemployment rates are not caused by international trade but, instead, by poor domestic policies. (There is, to be sure, much disagreement over just what those poor domestic policies are.) Prescribing tariffs as a remedy for high unemployment is like prescribing LSD as a remedy for broken bones: it might create the hallucination that a remedy is in the works, but it will in fact only inflict further harm on the patient.
Second, if the premise of your argument is correct, you should not stop with obstructing cross-border trade. You should propose also that, say, people be prevented, during recessionary downturns, from buying used cars (think of all the auto-factory jobs that would thereby be created); that people be prevented from preparing meals at home (think of all the restaurant jobs that would thereby be created); and that people be prevented from sleeping at home (think of all the hotel, motel, and B&B jobs that would thereby be created).
If (as I suspect) you believe that such additional restrictions on people’s freedoms are inappropriate, why do you suppose that restricting people’s freedom to trade with foreigners is appropriate?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Steve Jobs has resigned from his leadership position at Apple. He is unable to fulfill his obligations to the company.
Very sad day. He is 56 years old.
The headlines say he remade industries. The articles talk about how he gave consumers what they wanted. But he famously didn’t give consumers what they wanted. He imagined what they might enjoy wanting and then he gave it to them. Yes, he remade industries. But he did more than that. He changed the way we interact with information and music, the way we consume information and music, and the way we create it. It is hard to think of anyone who changed the fabric of so many lives in such a positive way. I say that as I write these words on a MacBook Pro, listening to Irish music via iTunes, my iPhone in my pocket. And of course his influence extends beyond the Apple products created under his leadership. Those products influenced the products of Apple’s competitors.
His success illustrates the sterility of the mainstream approach in economics to corporate strategy and the theory of the firm. The theory of the firm in neoclassical theory focuses on how much the firm should produce and optimal capacity. Game theory looks at strategic issues arising under various payoffs. Neither approach captures the nature of innovation, the trial and error risk-taking of the visionary entrepreneur or the power of creative destruction to enrich our lives. These ideas are at the heart of the Austrian approach to the firm, an approach that has made even less headway in mainstream academic circles than Austrian business cycle theory. I don’t know much about it other than its flavor. I’m going to read some more.
I hope Steve Jobs can overcome this latest health setback. In the meanwhile, thank you, Steve.
If human choices and actions in private settings are so heavily influenced by animal spirits that the economy is often significantly damaged by their musings and muckings around, aren’t human choices and actions in political settings at least equally influenced by these same animal spirits – and, hence, isn’t political activity at least equally distorted by these unpredictable poltergeists?
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (12:50 pm)
Sinodinos set to announce:
JOHN Howard’s right-hand man for a decade, NSW Liberal Party president Arthur Sinodinos, is expected to announce this afternoon that he will “jump the fence” and nominate to join the politicians’ ranks by filling a Liberal Senate vacancy.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (12:35 pm)
JULIA Gillard has revealed she fell in love with a former union official and fraudster who broke her heart and threatened to destroy her political career.
Ms Gillard, 46, who is poised to become Deputy Prime Minister if Labor wins office in two weeks, yesterday confirmed she was a union lawyer when she met the conman.
As a solicitor acting on instructions, she set up an association later used by her then lover, Bruce Morton Wilson, to defraud the Australian Workers Union.
But she has strenuously denied ever knowing how the association bank accounts were used.
“These matters happened between 12 and 15 years ago,” Ms Gillard told the Sunday Herald Sun yesterday.
“I was young and naive. I was in a relationship which I ended and obviously it was all very distressing.
“I am by no means the first person to find out that someone close turns out to be different to what you had believed them to be. It’s an ordinary human error.
“I was obviously hurt when I was later falsely accused publicly of wrongdoing. I didn’t do anything wrong and to have false allegations in the media was distressing....”
A lawyer in her early 30s with the Melbourne Labor firm, Slater & Gordon at the time of the fraud, Ms Gillard acted for the AWU.
She met Wilson, who was then the West Australian AWU secretary, while representing the union in the Industrial Relations Commission.
Wilson later moved to Melbourne, to become Victorian secretary…
Now hundreds of pages of new documents have been leaked, detailing the extent of Wilson’s fraud.
The con, used by Wilson to cream off possibly more than a million dollars of union funds, was simple and backed by standover tactics.
Only once did I feel I had slipped below the surface: when I asked her about her relationship with Bruce Wilson. She shrugged it off with, “Oh well, these things happen”. When I pushed a bit, quoting some of the more unpleasant tabloid headlines and saying, that must have impressed you, she flashed “Not so much”. And for a second I saw how that squalid scandal-mongering had hurt her.
(No comments. Gillard repeatedly insisted on her innocence, and I’ve seen no evidence at all to the contrary. I note this to remark yet again on her poor judgement and the Labor/union culture.)
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (12:05 pm)
Did Julia Gillard twice misspeak,
or twice lie at her press conference today?
As a matter of incredibly high principle, when there are investigations in train, people should let the authorities get on with those investigations without politicians seeking to run interference with how those investigations happen.... And third: we’ve had Senator Brandis ringing around police commissioners, Liberal mates and ministers, so that they ring a police commissioner....There we’ve got the Leader of the Opposition trying to tell Fair Work Australia how long it should take in an investigation, a Liberal Senator, Senator Ronaldson trying to go through the Minister to get the Minister to interfere with that investigation, Senator Brandis ringing up Liberal mate, ringing up the Police Commissioner
Brandis rang no police commissioner. Gillard knows this.
(No link yet to transcript.)
There is this report:
She also seized on reports that NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher had telephoned Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to inform him that opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis was going to request an investigation into Mr Thomson. It was revealed last night that Senator Brandis, after being told fraud allegations against an MP would be handled by the Australian Federal Police, contacted AFP Commissioner Tony Negus to clarify the position. Mr Negus then re-directed Mr Brandis to the NSW Police, saying they would have carriage of any investigation involving breaches of state law.
(Thanks to reader Victoria 3220.)
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (10:28 am)
Today is a turning point in the Thomson affair. An argument about what one MP allegedly did with his work credit card is now about a rottenness at the heart of Labor.
We’ve already seen the Gillard Government covering up for Thomson and Labor giving him $90,000. Was that an inducement to an MP? A payment to buy his slience?
Today, though, it gets a whole lot worse.
We have a report that the Labor/union factions headed by Bill Shorten and Steve Conroy, both senior ministers, arethreatening to punish the Health Services Union for reporting the allegations against Craig Thomson to the police. This, if true, strikes me as an attempt to subvert justice. It stinks of a cover up. I do not say that Shorten and Conroy authorised this threatened pay-back, but they must now publicly repudiate it.
And overnight a dirt-covered shovel is left outside the door of HSU secretary Kathy Jackson, who was home alone.
What we are witnessing is more like scenes from a mafia vendetta, not the processes of a responsible government.
The Gillard Government is completely out of control. Gillard must resign to let a strong and capable leader take her place and restore order.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (09:39 am)
Here is Stephen Smith talking to David Speers about a scandal at ADFA.DAVID SPEERS: You’re not willing to express confidence until you get those answers?Here is Julia Gillard talking about one of her colleagues.
STEPHEN SMITH: I want to take this step by step. This is a deeply disturbing matter. It not only goes to individual conduct which may be the subject of charges, it goes to Defence’s reputation and standing. It also goes more generally to a point I’ve made before – not linked to the circumstances of this case but more generally – that when members of the Defence Force do things in public, and in the modern day we need to proceed on the basis that if you do something online on Skype or Facebook, inevitably there is a risk or a danger it becomes public. If you do something inappropriate in public, you will suffer the consequences.
I have complete confidence in the member for Dobell. I look forward to him continuing to do that job for a very long, long, long time to come.
Davidson also quotes Smith on what he thought of the “separation of powers” argument in the Skype Affair and the very difference position advanced by the Government in the case of Craig Thomson.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (07:50 am)
Do any blog readers know of anyone in Strasbourg who can help someone in hospital who is struggling with the language and the luggage?
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (07:05 am)
All that money, straight from taxpayers to lawyers, thanks to Labor’s bungling:
MORE than $20 million has been spent on legal fees for asylum seekers in the past year, with the cost expected to hit $26 million in 2012.
The taxpayer-funded service providing legal advice and help with visa applications spends about $175,000 on every boat that hits Australian waters.
But the border protection legal bills, released by the Department of Immigration, do not include money spent by the government fighting court appeals by asylum seekers.
Documents released by the department revealed $19.4 million was spent through the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme to provide 6523 illegal arrivals with free legal advice and help with visas in 2010-11.
The law firm run by David Manne, who is fighting the government’s Malaysia policy in the High Court, is also one of the government’s approved providers under the IAAAS - which was introduced by the Howard government in 1997.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (06:32 am)
The Gillard Government can’t possibly be serious:
AUSTRALIAN businesses and households will have to send about $650 billion overseas between 2020 and 2050 to buy permission to keep some of our coal-fired power stations and other industries operating.
This staggering cost is indicated in the fine print of the Treasury modelling of the Government’s carbon dioxide tax and subsequent emissions trading scheme.
The $650 billion will be to buy “permits” to emit CO2.
The permits will be bought from sellers that don’t yet exist, or in markets that have yet to be formed, although the Government expects - hopes - they will develop over the next few years.
But this week it was reported that European police agency Europol had revealed a fraudulent trade in these so-called carbon credits in the only serious market that does operate - for the European Union - was far more widespread than previously thought and could have cost EU taxpayers up to €5 billion ($7 billion) in lost revenue in just 18 months…
Even without any rorting, the impact on the economy of this part of the scheme will be exactly like taking $650 billion and shredding it.
That will be throwing away nearly $30,000 for every Australian, about $120,000 for a family of four.
These wasted funds could build 15 National Broadband Networks. They could build a fast train network linking every capital city five or six times over.
The tempation for business just to buy cheap overseas without looking too closely at the offset they’re buying will be enormous:
PREDICTIONS that the Australian carbon price will rise once emissions trading starts in 2015 have been challenged by an analysis that found the price would slump dramatically because of an influx of cheap international permits.
How many of those cheap permits will be issued by Nigeria?
We won’t even get a foreign aid offset:
Mr Combet ruled out using revenue from a carbon price to meet Australia’s international commitments to help poorer countries tackle climate change.
(Thanks to reader mum of 6.)
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (01:47 am)
If you talk to cabinet ministers and backbenchers you get the impression they just don’t want to face up to how miserably their party is doing. There is a blind faith in many caucus members that things will get better - soon, sometime, maybe.
The way that this government is conducting the national debate suggests to me that this is a forlorn hope at best. Too many factors work against them and one of them is just plain bad luck. Gillard is not responsible for the horrible mess that debt is creating in the US and Europe. You don’t have to have a PhD in economics and be able to write a learned treatise on why it has happened, to know that the outlook isn’t good.
Then of course there is the Craig Thomson effect. This bloke is damaging the Labor brand every day he hangs around the parliament like a bad smell in a lift. Gillard is not responsible for this either but what a dilemma she has. Dump him and lose government or cling on to him to maintain the parliamentary numbers and watch the slide in the polls continue. Thomson is the suicide bomber’s vest, wrapped tightly around the Prime Minister and the Labor Party. It cannot be defused and at some stage it is destined to explode. Police investigations will take a while. Then, if a decision is made to charge him with a criminal offence, Thomson will be lost in the justice system for a couple of years.
Luck is important in politics. When John Howard faced defeat, the Tampa sailed to the rescue. I always believed that Hawke would put his hand down a sewer and pull out a $20 bill. I’m afraid Gillard would pull out something else entirely.
I have never hoped to be wrong as much as I do now, but it is hard to come to any other conclusion than this will all end in tears.
Andrew Bolt – Friday, August 26, 11 (01:42 am)
This rocks the power base of the Steve Conroys and Bill Shortens, and in turn undermines Julia Gillard:
THE national president of the Health Services Union, Michael Williamson, was rolled by more junior officials on whether to take allegations of misuse of union funds by Labor MP Craig Thomson to police, sparking a war within the union and sections of the ALP.
The Australian can reveal that, while national secretary Kathy Jackson and many other members of the union’s national executive pushed through a motion at an HSU national executive meeting on Wednesday to actively refer the matter to NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, Mr Williamson had initially opposed the move.
Mr Williamson, a former ALP president, had proposed his own motion the night before that made no mention of NSW police, noted that the matter was before Fair Work Australia and would have placed a gag on any further statements by union leaders about Mr Thomson. However, Mr Williamson went to Newcastle on the day of an HSU meeting in Sydney, and was outmanoeuvred by rebels who were determined that there would be a police investigation and they would not be silenced.
Mr Williamson, who did not reply to repeated requests for comment, is now at war with the less powerful but vocal Ms Jackson, a traditional factional ally, who was a member of the revolt.
THE Craig Thomson scandal has reached the heart of Julia Gillard’s office, with new claims her chief of staff phoned an industrial relations official in early 2009 to ask whether he was investigating the Labor MP.
Former industrial registrar Doug Williams last night confirmed the phone call from Ben Hubbard, which came before the fraud allegations surrounding Mr Thomson were made public…
The explosive allegations raise questions about when Ms Gillard - who was deputy prime minister and workplace relations minister at the time - first learned of claims Mr Thomson used union funds to pay for prostitutes.
Mr Williams, who retired as industrial registrar in December 2009, said he took the telephone call from Mr Hubbard earlier that year…
“I observed that, because of my independent statutory position as industrial registrar, I was not in a position to provide any information about what course I was taking.”
The allegations that Mr Thomson had used union funds to pay for prostitutes and other personal items were first published in April 2009.
Don’t they know how this looks like a conspiracy to protect the corrupt? Labor powerbrokers want to punish the union officials who called in the police to investigate the ripping off of their members:
As Prime Minister Julia Gillard went on the attack against the opposition over its pursuit of the affair, she faced unwelcome pressure on a new front as senior Labor figures in Victoria threatened recriminations against the trade union at the centre of the affair.
Sources told The Age that they were looking at ways to punish the Hospital Services Union after the decision by its national secretary, Kathy Jackson, to provide assistance to a NSW police inquiry into allegations against Mr Thomson…
Senior Labor figures in Victoria were last night considering a possible ban on the HSU from taking part in the party’s key policy and administrative forum, the state conference. They were looking at using the union’s alleged failure to file audited reports to Fairwork Australia as a pretext for its exclusion from the conference…
The Victorian party is dominated by alliance of one Right faction led by prominent federal MPs Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy, and the Left. The leadership of the HSU belongs to a rival right wing group that includes the shop assistants union and National Union of Workers. It includes among its leaders the HSU-backed Senator David Feeney and is dubbed the Taliban by opponents.
Sources from both the Shorten-Conroy faction and the Left were yesterday agitating to take action against the HSU.
Disgraceful. And the two ministers who lead the faction that’s after this retribtion include one who is in line to be the next Labor leader, and another who is in charge of a $37 billion project.
The incident, seen as a threat to Ms Jackson for her role in the Craig Thomson money-for-prostitutes furore, comes after senior Labor figures threatened recriminations against the trade union.
LABOR is being accused of breaching its own standards of propriety as Julia Gillard defends a staffer over allegations of improper conduct in the Craig Thomson affair. The Prime Minister today said there was nothing unusual about a 2009 call by her chief-of-staff Ben Hubbard to an industrial relations official who initiated an inquiry into alleged misuse of Health Services Union funds by Mr Thomson, its former national secretary.
But the opposition says by Labor’s own standards, Mr Hubbard’s intervention was inappropriate.
The Coalition is pointing today to comments by Labor’s Senate leader Chris Evans, who yesterday said it would be inappropriate for a politician to ring a Fair Work Australia official to inquire about the investigation.
“If I had actually rung (Fair Work Australia general manager Tim Lee) or sought to make inquiries or discuss with him the investigation, I would be under attack here for having interfered in the investigation, which of course I have not and will not,” Senator Evans told the parliament.
Ms Gillard today said neither she nor Mr Hubbard could remember his conversation with then-industrial registrar Doug Williams.