Author Archive

Ban-Fest 2012: 10 More Things Bloomberg Can Ban

If we’re going to ban legal activities because they may have a personal or social cost for a minority who take them to an extreme (thanks, Mayor Bloomberg), then we need to expand the list. We really shouldn’t limit our ban-fest based on discriminatory prejudices about culture or class. My contribution to a more culturally-neutral […]

Bigger Impact: Public Sector Costs or Flexibility?

In the aftermath of the recall election in Wisconsin – driven by public sector unions opposing Governor Walker’s aggressive reforms – Reihan Salam discusses the lessons from that state and fellow-reforming state Indiana. The post discusses insights from Josh Barro and Stephen Smith  (on transport union rules, well worth reading), as well as Governor Daniels […]

Neither A Monarchist Nor A Republican Be

It’s a sad fact that in politics sometimes people can be right for the wrong reasons. I struggle with this frequently when I find myself agreeing with people whose reasoning is very different from mine. As it is with the monarchy, the republic, and the Queen’s Jubilee. I have no feelings of emotional attachment to […]

Sunlight A Starting Point for Council And Public Sector Reform

When I asked Leichhardt Council (NSW) to respond to questions about performance and constantly received the answer “We do not collect that information”, it became obvious that the Sunlight Test applies to performance management as much as to unethical behaviour. The Sunlight Test (sometimes Sunshine Test), originally defined by US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis in […]

Curation and Customer Focus

Museum and monument curation has come a long way since the days of a glass case, pins and bugs. But not quite far enough. We have audio guides, information panels, numbered maps and the obligatory bookshop and café at the exit. It adds a great deal to the experience, no doubt. But it could be […]

Political Tribes, Institutions and Democratic Failure

Arnold King at American.com reviews two books examining how a successful liberal democracy emerges. What jumps out: In order to have the rule of law, a society must have cultural institutions that promote rules and norms that cannot be overturned by autocrats… The basic problem… is that humans evolved to reward close relatives, to appreciate […]

Murdoch Fixation Symptom of Larger Failures

The always-direct Brendan O’Neill takes on the Left’s fixation with Rupert Murdoch in a book review at Spiked: It sounds eerily like conspiracy theorising. The language precisely echoes that which is used by the 9/11 truthers and Obama birthers who lurk in the underbelly of the interweb: it shares with them a belief that there […]

Museum as Reliquary

It is pretty trite these days to compare art to religion. Every man and his dog has observed the hushed tones spoken in museums, the pilgrimages to collections and the willingness to cede taste to a priestly caste of critics and art historians who mediate our connection to the godhead. People seem to fix on […]

The Real Future Eaters

The developed world’s extended post-war adolescence is drawing to a close. Too bad it’s too late. Adolescence is marked by black and white thinking, a tendency to blame others for one’s own failures or for unmotivated events, overweening self obsession and moral idealism. It is also marked by continuing dependency, and being faced by choices […]

France As Perfect Laboratory – More’s The Pity For Its People

Today I had the misfortune to read the French business daily, Les Echos. It was a stretch for my French, but oddly enough, the higher the language level, the easier it is. The misfortune was to discover, in detail, the first steps of the Hollande government. If you thought that the Rudd government’s hardening of […]

France As Perfect Laboratory- More’s The Pity For Its People

Today I had the misfortune to read the French business daily, Les Echos. It was a stretch for my French, but oddly enough, the higher the language level, the easier it is. The misfortune was to discover, in detail, the first steps of the Hollande government. If you thought that the Rudd government’s hardening of […]

Will Permanent Ink Drive Permanent Adolescence?

The emergence of a mainstream tattoo culture since the 1990s – one that has gone ballistic in the past decade – raises interesting questions about maturity and changing identity. Tattoos were originally more about visible membership of a group rather than establishing individual identity. They displayed the subculture to which you belonged. Once they were the province […]

Giving Back Is The New Black

If I hear one more high-earner talk about “giving back” I’ll punch them in their self-obsessed mouth. One of the joys of being involved in politics is the opportunity to see, and work with, great NGOs operating on the frontline of social service delivery. It also exposes people like me to the eternally unnoticed who […]

MPs as Lobbyists and the Mendicant Society

Local MPs do just as much lobbying for vested interests as all those industry associations, NGOs and Hawker-esque consulting firms.  It’s just that they’re lobbyists for a geographic vested interest group – their electorate. I used to see lobbying as an unwelcome attempt to influence ‘independent’ policy professionals and MPs when they try to create […]

Religious Subsidy? Try Handout to National Airlines

Passing through the United Arab Emirates and I picked up an interesting story on India’s Supreme Court ordering an end to subsidies for India’s Haj pilgrims. On the face, it is surprising the Indian Muslim community supported the order. Until you read that under regulations  the air route has been shared by national carriers Air […]