Author Archive

Compo Reform: Media Fail, Politics Fail

So the  Telegraph editorial  welcomes long overdue reforms to the NSW Workers Compensation scheme and describes it as a difficult reform in an emotional area. At the same time Alicia Wood’s  Telegraph article  plays every emotional card in the pack, doesn’t address the facts of the debate, and follows the journalist’s creed: personalise, demonise, emotionalise, […]

The Delicate Rhetoric of World Government

I read Mark Thoma at Economist’s View as one of those correctives to spending too much time with people of similar ideas. I’m generally not on the same page. At all. I’m not this time either. He posts a long piece written by Barry Eichengreen and Brad deLong as an introduction to  Charles Kindleberger’s book […]

Not Just AusAid Funds Political Activity

Tim Wilson in  The Australian  highlights the issue of AusAid-funded political activity. The problem being that public funds go to NGOs for service delivery, who then undertake political and advocacy activities in parallel. NGOs are  frequently political players that contribute to party political campaigns on politically-contentious issues: NGOs are within their rights to lobby for […]

Now That’s A Wealth Effect

From NY Times via Marginal Revolution. The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday [in its Survey of Consumer Finances].   Makes my equity losses a bit more bearable. Schadenfreude anyone? […]

Tacocopter Takeaway Drone: Regulation Fail, Theory Fail

 Tyler Cowen, and Ryan Avent at Free Exchange write on how difficult it would be for an entrepreneur to get up the idea of a drone takeaway delivery device: the tacocopter. And it wouldn’t be the technology that would stop it, it would be the regulatory, legal, liability, insurance, brand protection and other social and […]

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 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 […]