The Parliament is a cesspool of foreigners

Who needs pay-TV when we have “Canberra”.

For what it’s worth I think Malcolm Roberts is gone.

Senator Roberts’ fate hinges on whether he was ever a British citizen, which he is refusing to disclose, and whether he took all reasonable steps to renounce the citizenship before he was elected.

Senator Roberts, born in India in 1955 to a Welsh father and an Australian mother, told Sky News on Thursday night he wrote to the British High Commission on May 1 last year asking if he was a British citizen. 

Five weeks later, he hadn’t received a response, so wrote again on June 6 – three days before nominations closed – saying that if he had British citizenship, he fully renounced it.

“I’ve taken all steps that I reasonably believe necessary,” Senator Roberts said.

After he was elected on July 2, Senator Roberts said he and his wife kept badgering the High Commission and it was not until December 5 he received a formal registration of his renunciation.

Yes – you read that right: He waited five weeks before badgering the British High Commission. Unless that UK renunciation is backdated to before June 6 I can’t see how he can remain in the Parliament.  Like Ludlum and Waters a open and shut case.

Julia Banks and Matt Canavan are somewhat different – they are Australian born, but may still fall foul of s44 as it is currently understood.

Clearly there are absurdities to s44 as it is currently understood and the High Court should clear it up asap.

In the meantime some interesting reading on the situation from Helen Dale, James Allan, Arthur Chrenkoff, and John Quiggin.

Posted in Federal Politics | 76 Comments

15 more years, and something about car prices

So here is a story that will warm Steve’s heart.

In the dramatic crescendo of the 2016 elections that gave Trump to the United States and the world, very possibly for sixteen years (the President’s re-election committee is already hard at work, while his daughter Ivanka Trump is duly apprenticed in the White House that, according to my sources, she means to occupy as America’s first female President), none of the countless campaign reporters and commentators is on record as having noticed the car “affordability” statistics distributed in June 2016 via Derived from very reliable Federal Reserve data, they depicted the awful predicament of almost half of all American households. Had journalists studied the numbers and pondered even briefly their implications, they could have determined a priori that only two candidates could win the Presidential election – Sanders and Trump – because none of the others even recognized that there was problem if median American households had been impoverished to the point that they could no longer afford a new car. This itself was remarkable because four wheels and an engine might as well be grafted to Homo americanus, who rarely lives within walking distance of his or her job, or even a proper food shop, who rarely has access to useful public transport, and for whom a recalcitrant ignition or anything else that prevents driving often means the loss of a day’s earnings, as well as possibly crippling repair costs. But even that greatly understates the role of automobiles in the lives of the many Americans who do not have private jets and do not live in New York City or San Francisco, for whom a car provides not only truly essential transport, but also the intensely reassuring sense of freedom depicted in countless writings and films, which reflect the hard realities of labour-mobility imperatives even more than the romance of the open road.

Will Ivanka be the first female US president? Maybe – far too early to speculate, but I found the story about car prices to be far more interesting.

The mass exclusion of Americans from new car ownership is the result of two converging phenomena, only one of which was recognized by Hillary Clinton, though scarcely emphasized in her identity-focused campaign: wage stag­nation. Sanders and Trump did not hesitate to blame that relative impoverishment on the exposure of the least agile of Americans to international competition, with the resulting de-industrialization that translated millions of Americans from $20-to-40-an-hour factory jobs to miserably paid service jobs. Beholden to the sanctity of free trade, the Clinton crowd even more than the candidate herself blamed the lethargy of the TV-watching, beer-drinking, gun-owning, church-going, and cigarette-smoking “deplorables”, who unaccountably failed to avail themselves of the wonderful opportunity to leave boring assembly-line jobs or downright dangerous coal-face or oil drilling jobs to become fashion designers, foreign-exchange traders, software engineers, or even political campaign operatives.

It was the other phenomenon, the other blade of the scissors that cut off the possibility of new car ownership for more and more Americans that Trump squarely attacked as Sanders did not and could not: the regulatory regime that has been relentlessly forcing up new car prices from the 1977 average of $4,317, equivalent to $17,544 in 2016, to an actual average price today that exceeds $30,000. Those regulations prescribe that American cars must be very, very safe, and steadily more demanding safety requirements have been forcing up manufacturing costs: the latest addition is the provision of rear-view cameras in all cars that will be mandatory in 2018, the result of an Obama decree prompted by the campaign started by a wealthy driver who had suffered the tragedy of killing his own young daughter while reversing. Because of his suffering, and his energetic lobbying, and because of Barack Obama’s enthusiasm for promulgating more regulatory decrees, in 2018 the additional cost of those rear-view cameras – only a few hundred dollars – will deprive thousands more households of the chance to buy a new car.

I don’t know the politics of new car prices in Australia – but I suspect the politics of energy prices may play out similarly. Right now the Liberals don’t have the stomach for a knock-em out, drag-em out fight on electricity prices, but that is something they should think about, if they want to stay in the winners circle (so to speak).

Posted in American politics, Economics and economy | 32 Comments

Thank you Gillian Triggs

The great Professor Gillian Triggs has finally completed her term as head of the Australian Human Rights Commission looking after our human rights. Despite her tremendous efforts, and outrageous personal attacks on Her Holiness, Triggs acknowledged that human rights had

regressed on almost every front

during her tenure. She also said that the Turnbull Government (and the former Abbott Government) was

ideologically opposed to human rights

Well that won’t stop the Government awarding her an AC (or perhaps the Government will restore knighthoods so a special AD can be awarded) to Her Holiness.

Just think how bad human rights in this country would be without Gillian Triggs. On behalf of catallaxyfiles, thank you Gillian Triggs. We welcome you as a blogger on this site since we are keen to understand and apply human rights.

Posted in Uncategorized | 58 Comments

The hidden cost of unreliables

Under-estimating the cost of wind and solar? Who would have thought?

A big part of our problem is that we are dealing with variables that are “not independent.” If we add subsidized wind and solar, that act, by itself, changes the needed pricing for all of the other types of electricity. The price per kWh of supporting types of electricity needs to rise, because their EROIs fall as they are used in a less efficient manner. This same problem affects all of the other pricing approaches as well, including LCOE. Thus, our current pricing approaches make intermittent wind and solar look much more beneficial than they really are.

Abandoned renewable energy plants. h/t Max in comments.

Our contribution at Wollongong.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 46 Comments

Australia doesn’t have an inequality problem

I have an oped (ungated here) in the AFR today responding to an oped by Richard Denniss.

Sigh. Yet another round of debate on “inequality”. Yesterday Richard Denniss was warning us that even those “lefties” at the IMF thought inequality could be a drag on growth. Indeed – they do. In developing countries extreme levels of inequality often lead to political and social unrest. We in Australia don’t have too much to worry about on that front.

Arguments about inequality are always a two-pronged attack on the status quo. First that inequality is somehow bad, and second that a soak-the-productive will improve inequality by equally impoverishing everyone. I’m quite certain that North Korea has low levels of inequality.

All the usual arguments – more tax will make the world a better place.

One response to my argument that there is relationship between effort and reward was quite surprising. Here is what I said:

In a country like Australia there is a clear relationship between work and reward. Those individuals who study hard, work hard, save their money, avoid chemical dependency, don’t have more children than they can afford, tend to live happy and comfortable lives. Not always. To be sure there is bad luck and misfortune but then we have a generous and means-tested welfare system to provide a hand up. Welfare was never intended to subsidise the lifestyle choices of the idle.

Uncontroversial, I would have thought.  But no:

Update I: This story got some coverage in News today.

Arbeit macht frei, or “work sets you free”, was the slogan used by the Nazis at the entrance of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Dr Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Jewish group the Anti-Defamation Commission, described the comment as crossing a “red line”.
“Cynically exploiting and cheapening the Holocaust and making light of the memory of those who perished at the hands of the Nazi death machine is deeply hurtful and morally wrong,” he said.
“Yes, we should have a debate about inequality, and yes people are of course free to voice their opinions. But, it is profoundly disturbing that anyone would employ the phrase from Europe’s largest death camp, where the 1.5 million people who died in the gas chambers or from starvation and disease were greeted by this sign and message, in order to criticise an op-ed.”

Dr Abramovich said it was “insensitive and demonstrates a gross lack of historical understanding about the crimes that Hitler and his evil regime committed”. “Drawing such comparisons is outrageous and never acceptable, and we urge Asher Wolf to apologise and to refrain from such trivialisations in the future,” he said.

Update II: Of course, so people just can’t help themselves.


Posted in Economics and economy | 72 Comments

Scott… Meet Irony

To think this was barely two months ago!


Posted in Hypocrisy of progressives, Politics, Politics of the Left | Tagged , | 126 Comments

Wednesday Forum: July 26, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 1,961 Comments

Damn foreigners

Now the s44 scandal becomes even more interesting.

Todate we’ve seen rather open and shut cases of s44 violations; foreign born politicians who remain dual citizens cannot sit in the Australian parliament.  This doesn’t strike me as being particularly unreasonable, although it also doesn’t strike me as being particularly useful either. Mind you, I have enjoyed every second of the kerfuffle.

Now let’s consider the case of Matt Canavan. An Australian born politician of Australian born parents who is entitled to Italian citizenship through, at least, his maternal grandmother (the media reports here are mixed – the ABC reports that both maternal grandparents are/were Italian). Is he disqualified?

Now that question (not specifically Canavan – but the general principle) has been the focus of a debate on Facebook with some well-known libertarians arguing “Yes” and me arguing “No”.  Quite rightly Matt Canavan isn’t resigning from the Senate (just yet) and the government will ask the High Court to adjudicate.

It seems to me that a strict interpretation of s44 would have him (and more than half the Australian population) ineligible to run for parliament, while a sensible position based on him being born here and having made no effort to claim any foreign nationality meaning that he (and about half the population) are eligible to run for parliament.

There has also been a lot of talk about the need for a referendum on this issue – the easiest thing to do would be to align voting rights with running rights. If you are eligible to vote, you are eligible to run. I suspect, however, that a simple solution like that would not be proposed nor accepted.

Update: Facts reported here.

In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen. In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well. I was 25 years old at the time.

While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen. Until last week I had no suspicion that I could be an Italian citizen. I was not born in Italy and have never been to Italy.

Following the reporting of Senator Ludlum and Senator Waters, my mother raised with me the possibility that I was an Italian citizen last week.

The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me. To my knowledge I have not received any correspondence from Italian authorities about my citizenship status, and they have not been able to provide any such records.

In the short time available I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law. I am seeking to obtain that advice presently.

Posted in Politics | 140 Comments

A few things

This is a long read, a gobsmacking account of the way billionaire John Arnold got into the war on bad science. After listening to the libertarain Russ Roberts on EconTalk he started giving out real money. The Arnold Foundation.

As Nosek tells it, John Arnold had read about the Reproducibility Project in The Chronicle of Higher Education and wanted to talk. By the following year, Nosek was cofounding an institution called the Center for Open Science with an initial $5.25 million grant from the Arnold Foundation. More than $10 million more in Arnold Foundation grants have come since. “It completely transformed what we could imagine doing,” Nosek says. Projects that Nosek had once envisioned as modest efforts carried out in his lab were now being conducted on an entirely different scale at the center’s startup-like offices in downtown Charlottesville, with some 70 employees and interns churning out code and poring over research. The skeletal software behind the data-sharing project became a slick cloud-based platform, which has now been used by more than 30,000 researchers.
John Ioannidis was put in touch with the Arnolds in 2013. A childhood math prodigy turned medical researcher, Ioannidis became a kind of godfather to the science reform crowd in 2005, when he published two devastating papers—one of them titled simply “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” Now, with a $6 million initial grant from the Arnold Foundation, Ioannidis and his colleague Steven Goodman are setting out to turn the study of scientific practice—known as meta-research—into a full-fledged field in its own right, with a new research center at Stanford.
British doctor Ben Gold¬acre also got an email from the Arnold Foundation in 2013. Famous in England as a sharp-witted scourge of “bad science,” Goldacre spent years building up a case that pharmaceutical companies, by refusing to reveal all their data, have essentially deceived the public into paying for worthless therapies. Now, with multiple grants from the Arnolds, he is leading an effort to build an open, searchable database that will link all publicly available information on every clinical trial in the world.

Police doing better at taking stuff than the burglars. h/t the evil dwarf.

Wartime recruitment posters mostly US. The Australian Norman Lindsay did some for WWI.

Our man Dan in DC, a reminder. On seizing assets. You are supposed to sign up and get his stuff in your email so I don’t have to post links here. Benefits of less government spending in the UK. Great moments in foreign government.
• The British government giving welfare to people with multiple wives.
• The German government having a jihadist working in one of its intelligence agencies.
• The Italian government appointing the wrong person for a job that shouldn’t exist.
• The Norwegian government financing friends for a mass murderer.
• The Greek government turning tourists into snoops for the tax police.
• The French government ordering trains that were too wide for railway stations.

Trump ends the war on coal and CO2 and helps the Dutch, among European nations. Psychiatric assessment of Donald Trump. Finding: OK. Mark Steyn’s week. The narcissism epidemic.

Intellectual Takeout site . Subscribe!

Posted in Rafe | 12 Comments

Q&A Forum: July 24, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 172 Comments