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Democracy becoming dominated by the politics of envy?

Catallaxy Files, 24 January 2020

Among the attendees of the recent Mont Pelerin Society were Steve K, Sinclair and me.  A great many issues were discussed in the debate on liberty, efficiency, their friends and enemies.

Wealth will weaken if we ever yield to populism

The Australian, 24 January 2020

This week’s Davos meeting of virtue-signallers and plutocrats was preceded last week by a meeting at Stanford University of the Mont Pelerin Society. Long dominated by Milton Friedman, among the society’s luminaries today are two former US secretaries of state, George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice.

Soleimani’s assassination and its aftermath

Catallaxy Files, 8 January 2020

A mass murderer calling himself a general is killed on Donald Trump’s orders either and/or because he escalated terror by killing yet another American or to take him out before he escalated even further. George W. Bush did not target him during the height of the Iraq War, when Iranian-supplied roadside bombs

Australia’s election result: a reprieve not a recovery

Catallaxy Files, 23 May 2019

Reprieve was possible but feared the worst.  Steve Kates offers a comprehensive 10-point summary of why the ALP lost.  I have a more succinct version in Canada’s Financial Post which highlights the key reasons being cost-pregnant green policies and the tax hikes on superannuation.

Election promises: eating the seed corn that generates sustained economic growth

Catallaxy Files, 14 May 2019

I have a piece in the Spectator that addresses the importance of savings to provide the capital that underpins wealth creation.  Savings themselves will be severely constrained where the state or other looters can exproproate them or where the state imposes regulatory requirements that devalue the savings a

Dog Dirt is No Substitute for Debate

Quadrant Online, 8th May 2019

There is now a narrow path to victory for the Coalition.  It relies upon them winning a couple of seats in Queensland and Tasmania, regaining Indi and making a net loss of only two elsewhere (in addition to the likely loss of Farrer to the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers).  But more than one loss is likely in Victoria, and

Australia, the Plodding Underperformer

Quadrant Online, 8 January 2019

The different rates of change in world income levels have provided Australia with a magnificent base on which to build our own prosperity. Alas, though our standard of living testifies to some success, political measures have blunted the potential level of achievement. A less regulated, lower taxing political regime

The red and blue of the US mid-terms

Catallaxy Files, 12 November 2018

The US mid-terms: a victory for Trump? Many on the right felt relief at the outcome of the US mid-terms, where the message was that the incumbent President predictably loses support. The House loss was said to be modest and the Democrats actually lost ground in the Senate

The ‘Broad Church’ and its Termites

Quadrant Online, 22 October 2018

No sooner did Wentworth fall than the green-left of the Liberal congregation demanded yet further sacrifices of other people's money and hardship be laid before the altar of global warming. If the party of Menzies has been white-anted to this extent, might it not be time to burn the whole thing down? ​ The

Trump's breakthough on trade rules

Catallaxy Files, 11 April 2018

The action is getting hotter on the energy front. Having been in a small minority for years, readers and writers on catallaxy are now finding themselves closer to the mainstream on the policy on energy/climate. To recap, the recent initial incendiaries were thrown by backbencher Craig Kelly in forming the Monash Forum and calling for

Energy policy takes center stage

Catallaxy Files, 9 April 2018

The action is getting hotter on the energy front. Having been in a small minority for years, readers and writers on catallaxy are now finding themselves closer to the mainstream on the policy on energy/climate. To recap, the recent initial incendiaries were thrown by backbencher Craig Kelly in forming the Monash Forum and calling 

Can the backbench energy revolt steer us back low cost electricity?

Catallaxy Files, 4 April 2018

Over the Easter break a ginger group of Coalition backbenchers, the Monash Forum, was announced. Chaired by Craig Kelly, one of the few MPs who has really studied the economic disaster that greenhouse policies are causing, it counts at least 20 MPs as members including Tony Abbott, George Christensen, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.

Trump making headway

Catallaxy Files, 29 Decmber 2017

Just in case there is any doubt about the media and Trump, here is a graphic from a Pew Foundation study that shows media attitudes to Trump and the previous three Presidents in the first 60 days of their first terms

Where to start with spending cuts

Catallaxy Files, 23 December 2017

Australia’s policy dice is loaded in favour of more spending and regulation. Major expansions in recent years have been on education, people with disabilities, the national broadband network (NBN) and renewable energy. Even those rare politicians who are genuinely concerned about excessive spending are reluctant to oppose

Politicians should pay for errors

Herald Sun, 27 October 2017

Victoria’s Wonthaggi desalinisation plant will be five years old this December. At an initial cost of $5.7 billion and an eventual cost of $19 billion, the plant will never be required. The $19 billion eventual price tag means a direct and indirect cost to the average Victorian household of $13,000. A far more productive alternative – a new dam 

Australia’s Crony Capitalism Inc.

Quadrant Online, 25 October 2017

Many of us have a nostalgia for the days, commencing with the Hawke-Keating competition reforms, when there was a phalanx of business people calling for deregulation, privatisation and smaller government. Prior to the 1980s the manufacturing groups were calling for more support against imports, including stopping “dumping”

Gays seeking attention at any cost

Quadrant Online, 4 August, 2017

Views on gay marriage have changed markedly. Doubtless reflecting the perceptions of the societies that produced them, homosexual relationships are considered an abomination in the Old and New Testaments and the Koran. Homosexuality has remained forbidden in most Muslim countries (punishable by death in extreme cases) 

There’s Free Cheese in Every Mousetrap

Quadrant Online, 13 June 2017

If Boris Johnson replaces Theresa May, the UK will have a Donald Trump of sorts -- an advocate of the political good sense in reducing the size of government as a basic principle. That would be a start, but no more than start, if democracy has both the will to survive and a realistic hope of doing so

Grasping at straws in the march to energy disaster

Catallaxy Files, 16 March 2017

As I pointed out in my previous post, republished here, the Australian government is using all its abundant intelligence resources to argue that Trump will not follow up on his strictures regarding the global warming scam. Julie Bishop is unfortunately proving herself to be simply a vacuous fashionista in saying that the US will stick

The Paris Agreement, Trump, Turnbull and Tesla

Catallaxy Files, 13 March 2017

On the night Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, Julie Bishop was quick to step in to forestall him responding to a press question about Australia’s future global warming/emissions policy. She said, as Malcolm was collecting his thoughts, the policy remains the same. ​ Turnbull, flanked by Bishop and Frydenberg, announced the 

Chaos, Opportunity and Abbott’s Agenda

Quadrant online, 1 March 2017

Escorted to the prime ministership by the trumpeting phalanx of his media shills, Malcolm Turnbull has produced exactly what detractors anticipated: division, desertion and, ultimately, his party's likely defeat. Why not take a new tack?

Free speech – lie down and forget it!

Catallaxy Files, 8 February 2017

In a robust discussion on Bolt tonight, left wing Melbourne counselor and former Gillard adviser Nicholas Reece tried to equivalate left and right. He said that some irrigators who put up an effigy of a Liberal Premier in a Murray town demo some years ago were just a bad as the thugs who, this week, attacked the police and quasi 

Renewables, 18c and the many paradoxes of Tony Abbott

Spectator Australia, 30 January 2017

In his address to the Young Liberals in Adelaide over the weekend, Tony Abbott once again demonstrated how wonderful he is as a critic of government. He applauded deregulation and border protection; he called for free trade, a slimmed down bureaucracy, repeal of Section 18c restraints on free speech and to

Trump will liberate us from green waste

Herald Sun, 20 January 2017

When Barack Obama hands over the Presidential reins to Donald Trump today his legacy is a poisoned chalice of a weak economy. To turn things round, Trump is proposing a 15 per cent corporate tax rate for businesses big and small. Already this is causing consternation in Ireland where that country’s 12.5 per cent 

Trump and Australian political dithering over energy costs

Catallaxy Files, 17 January 2016

What is wrong with these people? We have state leaders from South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland purposely rejecting the low cost energy option of coal that nature has provided and opting for renewables that will always cost three times as much. And we have an apparent consensus of politicians 

Trump’s energy and environment appointments

Catallaxy Files, 14 December 2016

Although there are three key appointments Pruitt at EPA, and now Tillerson at State and Perry at Energy there are some concerns among those of us who hope that Trump will swiftly kill the climate dragon. Tillerson as ExxonMobil head had praised the Paris Agreement. He called for a carbon tax back in 2009 and in recent

Drowning in sanctimony and red tape

Herald Sun, 9 December 2016

Brexit, the Trump victory and now the referendum in Italy had much in common. They were three polls where electorates stubbornly rejected the near unanimous advice of the so-called elites in politics and the media. In France the Presidential choice next April will be between its own version of One Nation and a radical 

Trump has changed the world; can Australia adapt?

Catallaxy Files, 3 December 2016

Grace Collier’s great piece today shows just how the US will dictate policy throughout the world. Trump will make the US a magnet for capital and initiative – not by mouthing bromides about what politicians will do but by action in removing impediments to people wanting to earn income. By contrast, the agenda issues

Trump: the ghost stalking Marrakech

Catallaxy Files, 16 November 2016

Having attended the December 2015 Paris Climate Change conference as one of the 0.1 per cent not sharing the fervour, I cannot suppress my schadenfreude about the Marrakech follow-up. Nor, I imagine, can another participant opposing the herd, Myron Ebell, who is now busy in Washington writing

Contratulations, and thanks for the exit route

The Australian, 11 November 2016

President-elect’s energy and climate plan offers the greatest opportunity to Australia What does Donald Trump’s victory mean for Australia? During the campaign he released 18 policies under these headings: anti-corruption, immigration and the rule of law, and a plan for jobs and trade. To start bringing these into

Trump victory a win for coal-powered energy

Herald Sun, 11 November 2016

This week, two events look likely to transform Australia’s politically created, catastrophic energy policy. First there was the announced closure of Hazelwood which produces a fifth of Victoria’s electricity. Secondly we have the Trump victory which mercifully will undermine the injurious climate and energy policies Australia 

Time to prepare for the Trump anointment?

Catallaxy Files, 23 October 2016

With Trump leading in four of the most recent seven polls, and Clinton in only one (two being tied), how here’s my take on his policy summaries ANTI-CORRUPTION TO-DO LIST : Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress.♥ Hiring freeze on federal employees to reduce the workforce

More green energy costs to placate activists and their financiers

Catallaxy Files, 27 Ocltober 2016

The trove of emails that Wikileaks is publishing help to explain what drives political decision taking. This is especially evident in the environmental sphere. US “charities” linked to Clinton campaign are funding lawfare and other opposition to Australian coal, oil and gas developments. International finance flows to influence

The first debate

Catallaxy Files, 27 September 2016

Many pundits argued that Trump won the first 20 minutes but Hillary won the rest. Unfortunately, the first 20 minutes was Trump being even more protectionist than Hillary so that’s scant consolation. I really don’t think he laid a finger on her. She was clearly better prepared and was not quizzed on the Clinton Fund

China investments a must to hold up our economy

Herald Sun, 16 September 2016

FOREIGN investment brings many benefits — new technologies and know-how among them — but its role in supplementing domestic savings is crucial for Australia, since we have not proven ourselves capable of living within our own income means. Investment is the key driver of our living standards but Australia

Are Governments preparing for a Trump Presidency?

Catallaxy Files, 13 September 2016

Reflecting governmental views, almost universally the media – not only the established mastheads but even think-tank journals – are aghast at the thought of a Trump victory. This is true not only in the US but here in Australia. Those, like P.J. O’Rourke, who were mortified by Hillary’s dishonesty, appalling lapses in security, 

Hope and Change the antidote for the US economy’s decline

Catallaxy Files, 28 August 2016

Steve Moore shows the tragedy of the new US GDP numbers. Nine years after the 2007 global downturn, US growth is stuck at 1 per cent a year – real incomes per capita are declining. Hillary’s solution is another tax increase, especially on those among the better off not funding her re-election, and more regulations

The destructive effects of the imperialism of politics

Catallaxy Files, 19 August 2016

My piece in today’s Herald Sun (“Spend plenty to buy nothing” subscription required) addresses the measures Australian governments are taking to prevent people producing things and earning income for themselves (much of which would also be syphoned-off by governments and used as bribes to secure their re-election). 

Spend plenty to buy nothing

Herald Sun, 19 August 2016

Premier Dan Andrews spent $1 billion of Victorians’ money not to build a road because unions were adamantly opposed to the value-for-money workplace arrangements it entailed.  To save two seats in South Australia, Malcolm Turnbull spent $50 billion on de-rated versions of nuclear submarines that are half as fast as the

Self Harm from Australian government management of natural resources

Catallaxy Files, 12 August 2016

Just when it seemed that in NSW we had one Australian government that was pursuing sound if uninspiring policies, Mike Baird proves us wrong. Even without the disgraceful arrogance of the ban on a sport much loved by the lower orders, the Premier has demonstrated himself no more fit to govern than the green left

Revolutions, Taxes and the Coming Revolution

Quardant Online, 5 August 2016

There was a time when leaders were elected to prevent the sovereign spending the money of the voters, but those days are long gone. Now legislatures plunder the productive to appease rent-seekers and the mendicant. Encouragingly, the portents for change are everywhere and growing rent-seekerIn announcing

Can we stop democracy from eating our prosperity?

Australian Financial Review, 12 July 2016

The increase in the independents' Senate vote from 21 percent to 35 percent between 2013 and 2016 is quite remarkable. But this was not a revolt against the notion of government. Only the Liberal Democrats, who got less than 2 percent of the vote, unambiguously favoured reducing the size of government. Even on 

Now the Hurley-Burley’s done: the election washup:

Catallaxy Files, 12 July 2016

I have a piece in the AFR this morning which notes that the recent election was characterised by voters seeking to award themselves more benefits. I argued The fact is that all but a handful of voters favour looting the rich and future generations (via budget deficits) and most hold this view unconcerned about or oblivious

Requiem for a busted economy

Catallaxy Files, 5 July 2016

The voters have spoken. They asked, ‘What do we want?’ and replied “More money and other stuff” They asked, ‘When do we want it?’ and replied “Now and forever” They asked, ‘Who will pay?’ and replied “Foreigners, rich folk and future generations” Ancient Greeks warned of the dangers of democracy. The American

From Ballot Box to Abyss

Quadrant Online, 05 July 2016

There has been a major shift in voting across Australia. Of the Senate votes registered on Saturday, the left and right minor parties obtained 35% of first preferences. In 2013, minor parties attained only 21%. Of first preferences at the booths, the Left polled over 21%. This group was dominated by The Greens, with just

Can minor parties prevent energy policy crucifying the economy?

Catallaxy Files, 28 June 2016

Government is always a tension. On the one hand are those who want to produce things to meet consumer demand and to profit from this. And on the other hand there are those who want to prevent some forms of production that would disadvantage them and those who want to “redistribute” the income, often before it is

Support from vested interests a cost to the economy

Herald Sun 24 June 2016, and Catallaxy Files 24 June 2016

A benefit of election campaigns is that while they are in progress politicians don’t have access to the legislative and regulatory levers. Election campaigns and caretaker government mean politicians can only talk about “fairness” or “reconciliation” or how they are going “to create the modern dynamic 21st century economy”.

Labor’s media releases: the Bills keep mounting

Catallaxy Files, 16 May 2016

The ALP’s daily election announcement, “Bill’s Media Releases”, would be better termed “Labor’s Media Release Bills”. We got off to a slow start in the 60 day election campaign with announcements in the million dollar range of baubles like assisting the “world famous” Rockhampton beef show and “feasibility studies”

ALP embarks on a protectionist gas policy

Catallaxy Files, 19 May 2016

In a remarkable policy change announcement Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and Australian Workers’ Union chief, Scott McDine, placed an op ed in the Financial Review that reverses a long standing ALP policy. In the piece Mr Bowen and his union puppeteer called for a “national interest test” for new gas development 

Federal Election 2016 - Parties clueless on cutting emissions

The Australian, 13 May 2016

Few people and no politicians would understand the costs of the political parties’ energy policies. The ALP, Greens and Liberals each have lengthy statements explaining how their approach is smarter and would cost little and be supervised by a plethora of acronymic bodies to regulate, advise and judiciously dole out money.

Election Spending Will take toll On Our Pockets

Herald Sun, 29 April 2016

Even with the federal election still at its phoney war stage, we can already see what assaults on our pockets the next two months will foreshadow. To shore up its supsport base, Labor wants to:

Voting Ourselves into Penury

Quadrant Online, 26 April 2016

A re-affirmation of small government, ideally including constitutional limits on its size and regulatory authority within the economy, is necessary if stagnation is not to become the way of the world. Or we could ape Japan's example and learn to live with little or no growth, not now or ever

Self-loathing threatens our way of life

Catallaxy Files, 30 March 2016

I am Spartacus added to the considerable publicity given to the UNSW guide to the post-1788 history of Australia being referred to as the invasion of the aboriginal indigenous peoples idyllic “dreamtime”. These depictions are standard fare for the self-loathing of modern society felt by huge swathes of academia

The Scalia replacement and the march of socialism

Catallaxy Files, 15 February 2016

These are difficult times to reconcile liberty, property rights and small government with the way that democracy, as it has developed, is trespassing on these the foundations of freedom and prosperity. That so many people have a view on whether it should be Obama or his successor who determines the replacement 

Terror’s war on us: where will it end?

Catallaxy Files, 7 December 2015

Barack Obama is calling for cool heads and has plenty of aphorisms in his address today on the Californian murders.  He hit out against those who have “gone down the dark path”, “freedom is more powerful than fear” and said we should not “give in to fear,” whilst also ruling out any escalation against islamic fascism

Electoral expectations and pressure groups: our guarantees economic mediocrity

Catallaxy Files, 3 December 2015

For many, the replacement of Abbott by Turnbull meant more than a more electorally pleasing rebalance of oestrogen and steroids within the government administration. It meant that we now have a businessman who has a track record of personal commercial success and better powers of persuasion to bring a turbulent 

The reshuffle: truth and consequences emerge

Catallaxy Files, 21 September 2015

It was never going to be good news but so far Turnbull has made only modest swings to the left. He has however: castrated the proposal to limit the abilities of environmental activists to intervene in every imaginable case to game the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and other vastly increased

Turnbull: man of vision or sound administrator?

Catallaxy Files, 17 September 2015

There was a telling moment in the Monday night press conference when newly minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was asked about his approach to climate change.

Roasted Shorten

Published on Catallaxy Files, 10 July 2015

Bill Shorten could never emerge whole from his two days before the Royal Commission. So much evidence of funds being directed to promote

Joe Hockey, SMH, libel and its defence

Published on Catallaxy Files, 1 July 2015

What are we to make of the $200,000 payout Joe Hockey got from the Sydney Morning Herald? The judge called the editor, Darren Goodsir, a malicious liar. (“an unconvincing witness whose evidence was repeatedly found wanting”, who used his newspaper to publish a personal attack on the Treasurer that was predominantly

Abbott bad as a PM? You have not seen anything yet!

Published on Catallaxy Files, 8 February 2015

Many see the Victorian election and even more so Queensland as having lit the fuse under the Abbott Government and probably, whether or not Turnbull displaces him, limiting the Coalition to one term. The irony is that the electorate, as interpreted and channelled by the media, think Abbott is losing because of extreme

The march of solialism is barely checked by its governments disasterous outcomes

Published on Catallaxy Files, 3 February 2015

Both governments had achieved some budgetary stability after disasterous ALP administrations. In Victoria the Coalition adopted a supine, small target approach, which was extremely timid and particularly unwise regarding mining. Some suggest they lost because they were too afraid to proclaim their policies and advocate

March of the Ballot-Box Mendicants

Quadrant Online, 3 February 2015

The conservative administrations ousted in Victoria and Queensland differed markedly in terms of style and deportment, but the poison that laid each low was the same: the electorate's belief that the prime responsibility of government is the distribution of free stuff paid for by someone else

Human Rights Commission brings confusion, costs and distorted agendas

Catallaxy Files, 13 January 2015

HRC is in some disarray with the Charlie issue serving to clearly demarcate its fault lines. Here is an agency staffed by the ALP for the ALP but having had a free marketer grafted on to try to steer it away from its natural tendency to attack freedom of expression when it comes from the political enemies of the left. In the Australian

Tampa Moments All Over

Quadrant Online, September 02 2014

For Bill Shorten, the risk is being seen as soft on Islamic terror, which explains his endorsement of Abbott's willingness to join the campaign against ISIS. For the PM, ground lost by his abrogated promise to repeal 18C is more than compensated by the electorate's desire for security

What can we expect from our government?

Online Opinion 13th September, 2010

While independents, Grens and Australian Democrats have played major roles in the Senate, the normal positon of independents in the lower House is one of total impotence. The thre independents in the previous Parliament did not bother to turn up during many siting days and to have done so would have ben a waste of their time.

Treasuring impartiality

ABC The Drum Unleashed 30th March, 2010

Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has offered support to the Government on climate change and water allocations. His Malthusian theme is that we are depleting our resources, a course that we cannot reverse because of "free riders".

Butt out of individual's private pleasure

The Herald Sun 14th July, 2007

Most people have ben surprised at he sped with which the smoking ban has ben comprehensively adopted. And, as most of us don't smoke, we are pleased that he opresion of smokers has so rapidly purified the air of pubs having previously conquered ofices and cafes.

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