Don’t call me stupid

world iq

It is the second time in two days that I have come across an article that deals with IQ, the third rail of public commentary up until now. Here is today’s: Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing – and some experts argue it’s because humans have reached their intellectual peak

IQ test results suggest people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have become less intelligent in the past decade. . . .

Some studies have shown the average IQ of Westerners has plunged 10 points or more since Victorian times and others claim it will keep decreasing.

Yesterday it was an article on IQ versus poverty which discussed “a longer running controversy is the persistent gap in literacy and numeracy associated with socioeconomic status.” This is moving into even more dangerous territory since it is grouping IQs by categories of some kind.

It must be the weather.

Posted in Cultural Issues | 170 Comments

You have to admire the ACCC chutzpah

The ACCC has resumed hostilities against Informed Sources.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also alleged that petrol pricing website, Informed Sources, which collects pump prices from each of the petrol retailers, allowed the retailers to “communicate with each other about their prices, and that these arrangements had the effect, or likely effect, of substantially lessening competition in markets for the sale of petrol in Melbourne”.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the arrangements were “likely to increase retail petrol price coordination and cooperation, and were likely to decrease competitive rivalry”.

“Given the importance of price competition in petrol retailing, the ACCC is concerned that consumers may be paying more for petrol as a result,” he said.

Got that? “[T]he ACCC is concerned that consumers may be paying more for petrol as a result”. Wow. Would that be the same ACCC that reduced competition in the petrol market by limiting petrol discount dockets to 4c?

Australian National Retailers Association chief executive Margy Osmond said the ACCC should focus on “getting the best outcome for consumers”.

“Cutting shopper docket discounts doesn’t seem to have reduced petrol prices,’’ she said. “How in touch is the ACCC with consumers?”

Mr Sims said the ACCC’s investigation clearly showed that when shopper docket discounts were above 4c-a-litre, independent operators did not compete by lowering prices because they could not afford it.

Yep – competition policy makes the world safer for inefficient competitors.

I just wonder what has changed since the ACCC last persecuted Informed Sources?

It had long been under ACCC scrutiny, with the regulator’s head, Graeme Samuel, saying in 2008 that it was ‘‘as close to being illegally collusive as we can find, but it is not illegal’’.

A lot of the nastiness that surrounded the FuelWatch scheme involved the ACCC’s vendetta against Informed Sources.

(HT: HG)

Posted in Economics and economy, Hypocrisy of progressives | 41 Comments

“No faith teaches people to massacre innocents”

Between rounds of golf, these were President Obama’s remarks on the execution of journalist James Foley by Islamic State:

Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL. Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.

He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there. Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world. He was 40 years old, one of five siblings, the son of a mom and dad who worked tirelessly for his release. Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.

Now, Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.

They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.

Words are his specialty. Actions not so much.

Posted in International | 201 Comments

If the Scots vote “Yes”

What would happen to the the Union Jack?

Next month, the voters of Scotland will go to the polls to decide whether or not they want to declare their independence from the United Kingdom.

This affects Australia because it has sparked a discussion about the UK flag — the Union Jack — and whether it needs to be changed if Scotland votes to secede.

I thought I would investigate the consequences if the Scot did vote “Yes” – what would happen to the Australian flag?

Scot-Aus flag

Given that the English have made no contribution to human civilisation we’d have to do with those who had. I’m not convinced, however, that it would catch on.

Posted in Libertarians don't live by argument alone | 113 Comments

2000 years since Augustus Caesar died

Octavian becomes consul.

SJ emails to remind us that today 2000 years ago (Australian time*) Augustus Caesar (23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD) passed away. The first and greatest of the Roman emperors.

The scene above is from season 2 of the Rome mini-series. Magnificent if you haven’t seen it – unfortunately the second half of the second season to rushed (after the series got cancelled – too expensive).

* We hadn’t forgotten, of course.

Posted in History | 28 Comments

How to fix the budget

The Business Spectator posed the question:

If you could make one change to this year’s federal budget what would you do? And why?

My answer:

There is just so much that is bad about the budget that it becomes so difficult to nominate a single change.

If there was one thing to change about the budget process overall it would be to not have crafted the budget around being “fair”, but rather around being “responsible”. The challenge Australia faces is that our budget is on track to being finally balanced at a higher level of GDP, as opposed to a lower level of GDP. The irresponsible spending of the Rudd-Gillard government will have become permanent. Increased government spending crowds out private initiative and promises higher taxes in future. Small wonder the private sector isn’t expanding. By being “responsible” the Abbott government could have introduced spending cuts to welfare without then having to spend in other areas and also raising taxes. The one thing that Joe Hockey needed to announce on budget night, but didn’t, was a credible and plausible return to surplus. That might not have been “fair” but it would have been “responsible”.

Posted in Budget | 87 Comments

Divestment news

Far from being close to reaching a consensus, the fossil fuel divestment debate divides SRI investors like no other. Responsible investors are just as constrained by benchmark tracking, fiduciary duty, investment mandates and the need to meet long term liabilities, as mainstream investors are. Excluding such an important sector from a portfolio is never going to be an easy call.

Instead, many SRI investors believe that engagement with companies is their most effective way to help mitigate climate change. The divestment vs. engagement approaches so far seem irreconcilable.

In addition, the carbon bubble thesis has failed to convince all SRI investors. This was one of the main talking points during the recent RI Europe Conference 2014 where a number of responsible investors expressed their mixed views on the topic. Some fear that the different scenarios played out by carbon tracker possibly overstate the chance that legislators from around the World will ever commit to imposing limits on the use of fossil fuels. Indeed, successive summits at Kyoto, Copenhagen and Rio have reminded us of the enormous difficulty to overcome prevailing short-termism and national interest.

Contrary to what many might have expected, despite the pressure from divestment campaigners, SRI investments across our oil & gas clients in Europe continue to increase, according to the institutional ownership data that NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions analyzed on behalf of listed companies. Currently, one in ten shares held by institutional investors in the sector is currently managed by SRI investors which have integrated companies’ Environmental, Social and Governance performance indicators in their investment allocation process. Furthermore, their presence in the sector has accelerated and has nearly caught up with the all-sector European SRI Ownership Benchmark.


Posted in Divestment | 7 Comments

Wednesday Forum: August 20, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 1,299 Comments

Why the Victorian Liberals deserve to lose office


I’m sure there are many reasons why they’re going to lose – but the MYKI stuff-up will be high on the list.

Before the comments thread fills up with with people telling me that MYKI was an initiative of the previous ALP government I know that. So what? You fix it, or you own it.

Posted in State Politics | 70 Comments

Team Australia versus Team Barbarian

Beheading journalists may be of more interest to journalists but this is what truly got to me this morning: Christians Crucified, Beheaded, Buried Alive:

Reverend Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse, said ISIS jihadists are crucifying and beheading Christians in Iraq and Syria–“people are dying for their faith”–and added that he has heard of “incidences where entire families have been buried alive because they refused to convert to Islam.”

But if photographic evidence is more of what you’re looking for, there is this:

Horrific video of American freelance photo-journalist James Wright Foley, 40, being beheaded by ISIS in revenge for US airstrikes 12-days ago in Iraq was posted to the internet Tuesday afternoon.

For more, go to Andrew Bolt.

You may think this “Team Australia” is a bit hokey but I’m with Tony Abbott. This is our version of “you’re either with us or against us”. He is asking people to declare their own position. This is a civilisational war and I know which side I’m on. And I might add that I’m not all that sure we’re going to win it.

UPDATE: Comments by Tony Abbott on the murder of the journalist in Iraq:

TONY Abbott has described the claimed beheading of American journalist James Foley by Jihadist group Islamic State as absolutely sickening and pure evil.

The Prime Minister said he had not seen the video released by the group purportedly showing a masked militant executing the reporter but said it showed why there could be no compromise with the murderous terrorists.

“It’s absolutely sickening, absolutely despicable and it’s a sign that there can be no compromise whatsoever with the murderous terrorists of the ISIL movement,” Mr Abbott told Brisbane Radio 4BC.

“This is evil, this is as near pure evil as we are ever likely to see.”

Mr Abbott said while it was not Australia’s intention to get caught up in unwinnable wars, he would keep talking to partners and allies about how to be useful. Australia had already joined an international air lift to provide humanitarian aid.

“We’re certainly not going to participate in ground wars and things like that,” he said.

But Mr Abbott said Australia agreed with US President Barack Obama’s position not to stand on the sidelines and watch a potential genocide.

The Obama administration says it has not confirmed the authenticity of the video.

The last line is equivocation of the finest kind. What side Team Obama is on is as yet unknown.

Posted in Cultural Issues | 234 Comments