The debate on press regulation continues

Earlier this year the Melbourne University Law Review published a paper by Ray Finkelstein and Rod Tiffen setting out a defence of the Finkelstein Review and its recommendations.

Chris Berg and I have written a reply that can be downloaded from the Social Science Research Network.

In this paper we provide a critique of the Finkelstein and Tiffen argument for increased regulation of the press. By failing to incorporate recent advances in the economics of regulation into their argument they fail to provide a coherent and rigorous foundation for their position. This leads them to overlook more obvious policy solutions to the problems they perceive in regulating the press. The Finkelstein and Tiffen paper also neglects to incorporate the political context underlying press regulation in general, and the Finkelstein Inquiry in particular. By underplaying the importance of both the economics of regulation and the politics of press regulation the Finkelstein and Tiffen paper misdiagnoses the problem under consideration and leads to inappropriate policy advice.

Posted in Oppressive government, Sink the Fink | 12 Comments

Stopping illegals from electing Hilary Clinton (or Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders)

The US President is elected on the basis of electoral college votes. These votes are based on the population of each state, adjusted every ten years after the census. The numbers are “whole numbers of people”, not eligible voters and that gives an advantage to those states that have large numbers of illegals, notably California, a strong Democrat state.

Adjusting the number of college votes to align with citizens would deliver a significant number of votes to the Republicans.

A Supreme Court action will be mounted soon to attempt to achieve that adjustment.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Own goal by warming worriers in the US

The 20 climate scientists who urged President Obama to use anti-racketeer laws to prosecute rival climate scientists may have unleashed a hailstorm on themselves. The leader of the pack, Jagadish Shuklas of George Mason University will be investigated by a Congressional committee and the results are likely to be far-reaching and damaging. Another story on the same issue.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Q&A Forum: October 5, 2015

Posted in Open Forum | 78 Comments

Markets are human flourishing

Posted in Economics and economy, International | 9 Comments

Roundup 5 October

Culture. The Spectator Culture House. Reforming the Swedish welfare state. The Camp of the Saints. Where Keynes went wrong. London Review of Books. Spiked.

Mark Steyn. His week in review.

Weather. Anti-Warming rallies cancelled due to bad weather. Coal still has some way to run especially with Japanese and Chinese financial assistance to less developed nations (their form of foreign aid). The war of words, who is winning? Making cooking safe in the Third World, trying to provide cleaner indoor cookers, from Judith Currys weekly roundup of interesting items. Another massive weekly roundup. India’s amazing CO2 mitigation plan, tripling emissions by 2030.

Politics. The corruption of the US political class. The Pope in the US surrounded by prostitutes and tax collectors. Prison-happy District Attorneys the main reason for high US rate of incarceration.

U.S. prisons are stuffed to the rafters, often with non-violent offenders. By all kinds of measures, we incarcerate far more people than most of the world. Why? The standard assumption blames aggressive drug law enforcement and mandatory sentencing laws. New research from Fordham Law School suggests a different answer. The War on Drugs is a big factor, but not the only factor.

The six hour work day. Just cut out the waste and distractions.

Filimundus switched to a six-hour day last year, and says that the change hasn’t really made a major difference in how people work. The leadership team just asked people to stay off social media and personal distractions, and eliminated some standard weekly meetings.

Posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups | 2 Comments

Politics abhors a vacuum

The Leaders’ debates next year will be quite interesting. Here is Labor under the headline, Terror shooting: radical groups ‘prey on teens like pedophiles’:

Bill Shorten has condemned organisations that incite “criminal thinking” in vulnerable young people, comparing them to pedophiles who prey on Australia’s youth.

The Opposition Leader said he had “no time for organisations fermenting dangerous” ideas amid reports the 15-year-old who shot dead a police employee in Sydney on Friday attended the Parramatta Mosque before the murder, including for a service associated with the controversial political group Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Farhad Khalil ­Mohammad Jabar is believed to have been radicalised through worshippers he met at the mosque where other teenagers are known to have sympathies for the terrorist group Islamic State.

Asked about the reports and if the government needed to take a new approach to this type of violent behaviour, Mr Shorten said: “If there are organisations in this country preying upon vulnerable young people, filling their heads full of murderous crazy nonsense, then those organisations are breaching their social contract with the Australian people.

Here are the New Libs via Greg Sheridan, who obviously has now also received the memo from central command to be nice to Malcolm:

Malcolm Turnbull has passed his first test as a national security leader after the shocking terrorist murder outside the police centre at Sydney’s Parramatta.

The essence of Turnbull’s wisdom here has been balance.

He has said essentially three things. The first, this is a shocking, cold-blooded murder and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family and the NSW Police Service.

Second, this is an act of terrorism.

Third, no one should attrib­ute guilt by association for this terrible act to the Muslim community or to any other Muslims individually. The need for dialogue with the Muslim community is not only to maintain social cohesion but also to help in ­efforts to counter the radicalis­ation of young people. Each ­element of these messages was necessary. To miss any one would have been to unbalance the response.

Turnbull’s response has won appreciation and support from each of the relevant audiences: the public generally, NSW police, security agencies and leaders of Muslim communities.

Turnbull’s government signalled in its earliest days that it was going to change the tone of the rhetoric it used in relation to terrorism.

No one could doubt Tony ­Abbott’s abundant goodwill in this area, but his rhetoric had become a little clunky, the constant repetition of the phrase “the death cult” was off-putting and some Muslim community leaders felt he had been a bit rough with them, in particular
in his remark he wished more Muslim leaders would say Islam was a religion of peace and mean it.

In any event, numbers of otherwise moderate and mainstream Muslim leaders felt alienated and some degree of co-operation had declined.

UPDATE: From Tim Blair. If I didn’t know this was never something to make jokes about, I would assume this was satire of a very dark kind.

Malcolm Turnbull’s more conciliatory approach to the Muslim community doesn’t seem to be working:

The teenage gunman who executed a NSW Police Force employee has been lauded as a “hero of the Islamic people” on a tribute page set up on social media …

A Facebook page has since been established in the North Parramatta teen’s memory, labelling him the “hero of Parramatta”.

“Hero of the Islamic peoples he will be gratly (sic),” one post read.

“Death to the evil police state of Australia who killed this young child all he is guilty of was being muslim!!”

A photo of Farhad’s face with a screen grab of footage captured outside the police HQ of him holding his gun above his head is accompanied by the statement: “Inshallah we will kill all the infidels”.

Another post states: “It is no secret that Australia seeks to destroy islam and there is no choice for followers of allah but to defend themselves.”

I’m not sure, but this might qualify as some of that divisive rhetoric Mark Kenny is always crying about. And check the line from Nick Kaldas:

Asked about the page, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said it was disappointing.

“Just as disappointing as the right-wing extremist material,” he said.

Sure, Nick. Because right-wing extremists always rejoice online when one of them murders a police employee.

Posted in Federal Politics | 67 Comments

What’s this then?

Clive Hamilton in The Conversation today:

… there is no violent environmental extremism in Australia.


In 2011 Greenpeace activists destroyed wheat at a CSIRO facility.

In 2014 Elizabeth Farrelly called for the government to be overthrown:

A people’s revolution is required. Democracy is failing us. So far, smugness and stupidity seem a more likely sinkhole for the democratic experiment than the bloodshed and tyranny that George Washington predicted, but if climate change really gets going it could still come to that. Democratic governments are abject moral cowards.

In 2007 Clive Hamilton himself did the same thing:

This is because the implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of “emergency” responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.

These examples are in addition to those Hamilton admits to in his op-ed at the Conversation. I’m sure there are more. The fact is that Australian environmentalists have both advocated and engaged in acts of violence.

All that is in response to an Australian government publication warning of the dangers of extremism. Hamilton quotes the markers:

  • They cut themselves off from society.
  • They become completely absorbed in a group or ideology and no longer relate to friends and family members.
  • They become very hostile to the “enemy” including the police and the government.
  • They see violence as an acceptable way to achieve their ideological goals.

Yet, as Hamilton, has admitted:

Savvy campaigners now assume that their communications are being routinely monitored. Greenpeace activists, for example, are in the habit of turning off their mobile phones when discussing campaigns. They leave them in another room under a pile of magazines, aware that they can be turned on remotely and used as listening devices. The video and audio facilities of their computers can also be used for snooping by outside forces. Putting masking tape over webcams is now a standard precaution.

What could “savvy campaigners” possibly be up to that they think intelligence or security agencies shouldn’t know about?

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Hypocrisy of progressives | 26 Comments

Bernanke rewriting history

Ben Bernanke is taking credit for having saved the US economy. Okay – what else would he say? But this comment leapt out at me as not possibly being correct:

But there is no doubt that the jobs situation is today far healthier than it was a few years ago. That improvement (as measured by the unemployment rate) has been quicker than expected by most economists, both inside and outside the Fed.

No. I don’t think so. The expectation and the reality is set out in this graphic (we have shown it often enough over the past few years).

Latests Stimulus and unemployment

If US unemployment is tending to 5.1% now, it should have been there 2 years ago.

Where Bernanke is correct is that inflation hasn’t taken off. Not yet. The thing is that it is far too early to declare victory on Fed policy following the GFC. Interest rates have not yet returned to “normal” levels and the Fed still has a lot of very poor quality assets in its balance sheet. If and when interest rates are at normal levels and the Fed no longer has all that rubbish on its balance sheets and inflation still hasn’t broken out then (myabe) he will; have been correct. Until then it is too early to say.

The argument that unemployment has recovered faster than expected, however, is simply false.

Update: For those of you with twitter look up an exchange of views with a lefty tweeter I had about the US stimulus graph last night. I certainly enjoyed the experience more than he did. The argument goes as follows: Because the US Congress legislated a very different stimulus package to the one actually modelled the comparison is inappropriate and misleading. Generally I’d be somewhat sympathetic to that view, except that argument isn’t correct. The original American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was meant to spend some $827 billion while the final version spent $787 billion. So the $40 billion difference is meant to be a completely different package? I don’t think so. That’s is less than a 5% difference.

Posted in Economics and economy, History | 18 Comments

What’s wrong with this sentence?

From the ABC (spoiler, I suppose):

Ivan Glasenberg is an Australian. He wasn’t born here. He doesn’t live here. And he almost certainly pays as little tax as possible here, despite being, until recently, the second richest person in the land.

People who don’t live in Australia don’t usually pay tax in Australia. The US operates a tax system where it taxes its citizens no matter where they live in the world. Australia doesn’t operate such a system. You would think that the Business Editor of a $1.2 billion media empire would know that basic fact.

Posted in Taxation | 28 Comments