Politics & Liberty Articles:

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.

Modelling, Schmodelling! How to rationalise policies that would destroy the economy

Catallaxy Files, 25 July 2018

In a reprise of the feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish, the Energy Security Board has offered salvation for the Australian economy with the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

Modelling, Schmodelling! How to rationalise policies that would destroy the economy

Catallaxy Files, 25 July 2018

In a reprise of the feeding of the 5000 with five loaves and two fish, the Energy Security Board has offered salvation for the Australian economy with the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

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 and Iran-backed militias were killing hundreds of American troops. By 2011, that toll had reached more than 600 and Barack Obama was the president; he too declined to hit the general. Indee

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 is important to enhancing our income levels. And as the 21st century progresses such a policy redirection will assume increased importance in ensuring our national security.

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 Liberals are proving themselves unable to differentiate their product from that of the ALP and even veering close to the Greens. The rot started with John Howard and his “broad church” appr

Trump's breakthough on trade rules

Catallaxy Files, 11 April 2018

hough under pressure from the Mueller investigation seemingly trying to establish a link between Russian influence on Trump and the pornstar Stormy Daniels who claims a one night stand with Donald a decade ago, Trump seems to have kicked yet another goal. Following Trump’s pressure on China and others to bring about greater “fairness” in international trade rules, China has blinked with promises to reduce tariffs and open the economy to greater investment. The Australian’s Cameron Stewart, a c

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 for the abandonment of the renewable energy subsidy policy which is destroying the competitive fibre of the economy. Unnerved by the whole process Mr Turnbull then m

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.

Excessive house prices: land use regulation and not immigration is the solution

Catallaxy Files, 28 January 2018

Tony Abbott must surely be the only possible route by which Australia can emulate the benefits that the US is now reaping from the election of President Trump. ​ While being a more refined politician than The Donald but falling short of many of our hopes when in office, Abbott shares Trump’s goals of small government, and like him contests Political Correctness, and is pro-liberty and democracy. Abbott’s unadvertised selfless, personal charity work among Aboriginal communities marks him as un

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 those lobbying for such measures and the votes they promise. Nonetheless an injection of personal responsibility would be useful even if limited to the most egregious and mi

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 - could have been built for only one billion dollars.

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” a policy approach that Australia took to global heights.

Gays seeking attention at any cost

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) but in the West over the past 50 years it became first tolerated then legal.

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

s 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 to the Paris Agreement because “like Australia” it can easily meet its goals. Wishful thinking invariably is proven false and Trump is poised to sign executive or

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 ratification of the Paris Agreement the day after Trump’s election victory in full knowledge of the President-elect’s determination to pull the US out of its economi

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 politicians like himself and who were allegedly defending “the homeless” involved in trashing the Flinders Street station. These violent individuals, he said, totally

Renewables, 18c and the many paradoxes of Tony Abbott

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 “ensure the Fair Work Commission is not the union protection racket that Bill Shorten turned it into”. The speech was laced with gems like: ​ Government can’t solve all problems – and trying

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 corporate tax rate that has transformed it from a rural backwater into one of the world’s richest nations. Australia’s anti-business political constituency is blocking business taxes red

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 in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania rejecting fracking, the technology that has rescued US energy supplies and proven itself harmless in spite of a million wells having been drilled. Tod

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 speeches he has reiterated support for measures on climate change – this is from a speech in London in October of this year we must continue to lower emissions. At ExxonMobil, we share the view that the risks of climate change are serious and warrant thoughtful action. Addressing these risks requires broad-based, practical solutions around the world. Importantly, as a result of the Paris agreement, both developed and developing countries are now working together to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, while recognizing differing national responsibilities, capacities and circumstances. In our industry, the best hope for the future is to enable and encourage long-term investments in both proven and new technologies, while supporting effective policies. Which is what we are doing. We have long supported a carbon tax as the best policy of those being considered. It may be that such statements were made to please particular constituencies (including the Rockefeller family which, like other scions of those who made their fortunes out of oil, is now deep green). It may also have been to take the heat off Exxon which his more openly sceptical predecessor, Lee Raymond, attracted. Even if that is the case, it might be said Tillerson lacks some moral fibre.

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 free market conservative, both with a hard line on immigration and militant Islam. A discord has opened up between voters and between those who think of themselves as opinion leaders. An increasing number of people share different concerns than those promoted by sanctimonious politicians and the media.

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 in Australia remain dominated by vanity politics. Here are just a few We hear much about “safe schools” when the data is in and our education system is inferior to that of the Borat countries we joke about. The children of the privileged invade Parliament to seek open borders and complain about conditions of self-defined refugees, when accommodating them costs $100,000 per person. We worry about being labelled racist rather than reject immigrants from barbaric African and Islamic cultures that engage in violent theft and terrorism We struggle to curb the monopoly of a vicious union that jacks up investment costs by 20 per cent plus We fiddle with increasing energy costs with state governments seeking a 50 per cent share of expensive and unreliable renewables and ban fracking gas, bringing a third world electricity supply causing our most productive industries to leave; the response:- an electricity inquiry whose members have no expertise in the wholesale market Rather than rewarding savings we dream up more inventive ways of confiscating them by raiding superannuation We seek new ways of hobbling farming through restrictions on clearing and allocation of water to phoney environmental causes We seek ways to squeeze more out of the miners now the investment boom is over.

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 the Trump administration’s blueprint for its unravelling. Envisaged as further icing the economic death cake of commercial energy with the US headed by a President-elect even more dedicated to the attacks on commercial energy than Obama, all we now see is long faces and sour, plaintive comments.

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 effect, he announced 10 bills he would push in his first 100 days. His anti-corruption policies largely focus on eliminating the sort of lobby influences that Wikileaks revealed the Clintons had provided in return for support of their family fund, to which Australia is a generous donor. These anti-corruption policies also encompass a deregulatory and government downsizing agenda. On immigration and the rule of law he plans to appoint conservative judges and clamp down on crime and illegal immigration (the “wall” with Mexico is not formally mentioned). Trump’s plan for jobs and trade is a more mixed bag.

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 has followed. Hazelwood’s closure was caused by government actions. Federal energy Minister Josh Frydenberg blamed Victoria’s Labor government saying it had, “pursued an ideological approach which has meant that they have traded away blue-collar jobs in the regions in order to win green votes in the cities.’’ While Labor did deliberately plan the plant’s closure, the Coalition is also culpable because Hazelwood saw its life drained away by the Commonwealth’s renewable energy target.

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 through attrition ♥ Requirement to eliminate two federal regulations for every new one ♥ Five-year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists ♥ Lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments ♥ Complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections ♥

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 policy on climate change also go from Australia to the US. Wikileaks reports an email to Hillary campaign chief John Podesta as “Here is the plan to go after WSJ and FOX on climate. I have 500,000 of this pledged if I can raise another million. It’s a real pledge from Graeme Wood in Australia. I sure hope something like this can happen it’s long overdue.” Podesta has had many green business links to tap into subsidies including with Russian interests he now disowns.

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, barely quizzed on emails, immigration hardly figured nor really did Libya and Trump got embroiled in gotcha questions on his tax returns, shady business dealings and alleged racial preferment of housing tenants 35 years ago. Hillary was confident, well rehearsed, even witty. Unlike Trump, she faced no pressure from the moderator though Trump did not do a Romney and cave in the light of this

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 does not produce sufficient savings to finance this and needs foreign capital inflows. Our savings shortage amounts to a fifth of our annual investment. Among the reasons why we generate inadequate savings are welfare policies that discourage self-reliance, and excessive personal consumption. These are compounded by taxation policies under which savings are penalised by tax on the original earnings being added to by tax on the income from the savings themselves. Superannuation has offered some partial shelter from double taxation but now this is under pressure by new government tax grabs.

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, and aggressive pursuit of failed Obama energy and health-care policies still favoured her over Trump. The reasons were cited as being Trump’s assertive offensiveness to opponents (including to my favourite candidate, Ted Cruz) and protectionist statements (though Hillary’s criticism of free trade are not much different) forthright opposition to Islamic immigration statements about building a wall to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico (though this may be little different from the electronic surveillance that already covers most of the border)

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 on investment. She also wants to crush job creation with much higher minimum wages (Trump is ambiguous on this). Because of its diffuse power base, the US is not as vulnerable as most other economies to bad government. But the worst administration in its history, a Supreme Court that is slowly legislating for socialistic policies and a Fed dedicated to undermining future incomes by preventing savings is a poisonous brew

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). It notes the NSW Baird government got away with spending only $220 million of taxpayers’ funds to stop a coal mine, thus deflecting the hysteria that Alan Jones was whipping up. This is small beer in comparison to the $1 billion plus that Dan Andrews’s Victorian government spent to prevent a road being built, thereby placating his union financiers who were worried that the EastWest Link’s high-productivity workplace agreement would seriously reduce their influence. And that, in turn, is a cheap deal compared with the $50 billion, squandered to secure two seats, on over-priced submarines that are too slow and short range for Australia’s needs.

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 models on which they are based and inadequate for covering Australia’s vast distances.  So, for New South Wales Premier Baird it must have seemed a bargain to spend a mere $220 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned to persuade BHP not to build a new coal mine.  In doing so, Premier Baird placated media personality Alan Jones, whose campaign against the mine was based on nostalgia for his childhood memories he imagines would be ruined even if mining were to cover one thousandth of a per cent of his boyhood playground

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 bludgers in charge in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

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 even more funds plundered from taxpayers and diverted to negative value-added CSIRO climate change spending, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said both he and Prime Minister Turnbull have “clear and strong views” on the value of “the science”. It would be wonderful if those views were confined to the two of them. The fact is that, in so many respects, the issue of climate change is, as Kevin Rudd said, “the greatest moral issue of or time”. It is the fault-line that divides socialists from free marketers, from those who see the interchange of goods and services as leading to oppression and cheating and those who recognise it as the source and reason for our prosperity.

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 the most generous reading, fewer than 10 percent of Australians cast their votes for party manifestos promising smaller government.

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 to any effect on future productivity and income levels. Most people see little merit in balancing the budget and are certainly not prepared to vote for measures that involve personal sacrifice. Not only do voters favour maintaining or increasing the two-thirds of payments that go to health, education and welfare, they also insist on diverting incomes to wasteful spending on politically correct submarines and steel works. The latter have been made uncompetitive because of the very labour market and energy regulations politicians, in response to public pressure, have introduced.

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 rebels distrusted it and adopted Constitutional restraints to prevent it looting the rich and destroying future prosperity. Modern Greeks and Venezuelans perfected democracy as an economy-destroying system. But throughout the world democracy has degenerated into a system of transfer payments and regulatory controls; this is consuming wealth generation and has accelerated in the past decade.

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 under 9% and Xenophon, now seeking a centerist re-badge, at 3.4%. The only other Left parties polling above one per cent were the Derryn Hinch/ Animal Justice Party, (Left on climate, Right on crime) at 2.86% and the Sex-Hemp-Drug Reform parties, campaigning in alliance, which got 2%.

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 produced. With energy policy however the main political rivals are in competition with policies designed to reduce national income and wealth. Shifting out of fossil fuel to wind/solar is a key policy of the Coalition, the ALP and The Greens with differences centred on how fast and on the mechanisms for doing this. The policy, now driven by alleged human induced climate change, means substituting electricity that costs around $38 per megawatt hour with a product that costs $120 and which also requires considerable back–up cost to offset its intrinsic low quality.

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”. Governments already take nearly 40 per cent of our income, mainly for welfare spending, and Commonwealth regulations cost us an additional 11 per cent. Come July 3, whoever wins the federal election will inevitably add to the already towering tax/spending and regulatory burdens. For Victorians the Commonwealth’s impositions compound those of a state government addicted to ever increasing levels of spending and regulation. The rise of The Greens in the state gave an alternative to Labor for activist lobbies and some union funding was redirected to them.

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” into enlarging a dam. But already baked into Labor’s pie was $29 billion in Gonski education spending that mean-spirited Malcolm is apparently going to stint on. Added to this is another $430 million that is to be poured down the education sinkhole for teaching scholarships, additional earmarked Aboriginal funding and for regional classrooms (to match the school halls oversupplied under the Ruddster)

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 proposals. That is code for ensuring a domestic allocation of gas at discounted prices. Major gas users, led by Incitec Pivot and Dow’s Andrew Liveris, have long sought preferential access to gas supplies, a goal that has doubtless become more urgent as a result of regulatory suppression of new gas developments by fracking. Manufacturing unions have also been supportive of a regulation that would offer advantages to a heavily unionised industry at the expense of general enhancements to national productivity. A 15 per cent domestic allocation is often mentioned. But such a share is likely to raise overall costs by 10 per cent and kill off a great many projects.

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. In estimating the costs of energy policies, the bottom line is:

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

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 and the chattering classes.

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 of Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court reveals how we have become accepting of the politicised nature of the judiciary. Scalia’s death follows the Court’s narrow 5-4 stay in allowing the President to regulate the closure of coal fired power station. Scalia was in the minority in the notorious Kelo case where so-called precedents were found to justify almost any government taking of individual property without compensation under the notion of eminent domain. He was campaigning to have the judgement reversed (many US states have actually re-enacted eminent domain restraints). Australian courts have long acquiesced in legitimising such theft.

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 because it might annoy local

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 Parliament into line and bridge the budget deficit gap.

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 environmental red tape; been suggested as likely to retain and perhaps expand the renewable energy rort and allow the Clean Energy Bank to supplement proposals with cheap government finance, and possibly allow the purchase of phantom emissions restraints to appear to meet carbon reduction goals rebalanced infrastructure funding to the politically correct rail projects, hardly any of which would out-justify road spending in cities which exhibit increasingly dispersed origin and destinations that fixed rail can never cope with; Appointed an interventionist-minded Kelly O’Dwyer as “minister for revenues”, a pseudonym for raising new taxes with minimal screaming?

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 motivated by malice). That must put his position under a cloud.

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 austerity, while his natural supporters – conservatives and small government free marketers – consider he is insufficiently resolute in tackling these and other liberal issues.

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

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 a drive to get the public sector vote and suggest the in-coming Baillieu government should have called a Royal Commission into the desalination plant to illustrate the wasteful and corrupt nature of their predecessors (though this would have also pilloried Coalition MPs who mainly rejected the alternative of a major new dam).

March of the Ballot-Box Mendicants

Published by 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

Published on 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 Tim Wilson is reported as categorically stating that although many of the magazines religious cartoons would not be actionable, “the restrictions contained in section 18c of the Racial Discrimin­ation Act would “ensure it would be shut down” . He was supported in this view by a raft of legal expertise.

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