Tell that to ASIC

Matt Canavan, quite rightly, has issued a warning to big business:

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has warned big business not to form its own policy on greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of the dumping of the National Energy Guarantee, telling it to leave policy to the democratic process.

Responding to an unsourced Fairfax Media report that the nation’s biggest energy companies had begun talks on a self-regulated package to reduce greenhouse gases through the Business Council of Australia, Senator Canavan advised the big corporates to have “a bit of humility.”

But … I suspect many big businesses are being driven to do so by a government agency:

The corporate regulator has encouraged companies to go beyond meeting strict legal requirements and voluntarily disclose climate change risks and opportunities to the market.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission commissioner John Price told a Centre for Policy Development forum on Monday night that in addition to the strict legal requirements, companies should also “carefully consider the general information needs of investors” when it comes to disclosing climate risks.

So what is Business to do? Respect the democratic process, or respect the undemocratic regulatory agencies that will drag them through the courts?

Posted in Economics and economy, Oppressive government, Rule of law, Shut it down. Fire them all. | 26 Comments

Paul Johnson on universities

Poor behaviour at universities has been in the press recently so I thought it might be interesting to post what British historian Paul Johnson had to say about the role of those institutions:

Indeed, the study of universities and the great men and women who have attended them leads me to think that the best of these schools are characterized not so much by what they teach and how they teach it but by the extent they provide opportunities and encouragement for students to teach themselves. The best also help to instill certain intellectual virtues in young minds, including respect for the indispensable foundation of democracy, the rule of law; the need to back up opinions with clear arguments, empirical evidence and hard work; the varying importance of resolute conviction and friendly compromise, when appropriate; open-mindedness at all times; and the perpetual need for courage in the pursuit of truth.

Then there is Bryan Caplan’s view of education nicely summarised here.

Posted in Education | 5 Comments

It’s more difficult to understand why socialism doesn’t work than you might think

The reasons are explicable but they are very difficult to understand without a thorough knowledge of how economies work.

From Instapundit

GLORIA ALVAREZ ON REASON TV: Socialism Fails Every Time (Video):

It certainly has a lot of bad luck associated with it, for some inexplicable reason.

For an explanation, you need to go to what is known as the Socialist Calculation Debate, and then be prepared to spend a long time thinking it through. You can easily see that all such experiments have failed in the past, but that is empirical, and never convinces since it is always different next time, at least when it all begins. The end point is always The Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela, and never Denmark or Sweden, but why?

Posted in Market Economy, Socialism | 56 Comments

Wednesday Forum: October 10, 2018

Posted in Open Forum | 1,555 Comments

Boettke on Hayek and the populist revolt

“Government fails because it grows, and it grows because it fails” [272]

“We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage…if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its greatest, the battle is not lost (Hayek, 1949)” [276]

The second part of the chapter on the reconstruction of the liberal project examines the populist revolt in its various forms and suggests a liberal/cosmopolitan response. Boettke sees left and right forms of the populist critique of the status quo. I have been irritated by a lot of the talk about the rise of populism because there seems to be an assumption that everyone knows what populism means and right now I am feeling left out because I don’t have a handle on what it is except that is supposed to be really bad. I think populism is good when I agree with the result and bad otherwise.

Brexit and the victory of Trump are supposed to be bad populism but I am in favour of both. Maybe it is the motivation that counts as bad – like the British who voted yes because they don’t like foreigners and the people who voted for Trump because they wanted tariffs to protect their jobs.

And then there is the populism of the left, vote buying for every politically correct group and the children’s crusade that backs Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. Trump is reviled as a racist by the deranged but he reached out to the ethnic communities and not in the cynical manner of Lyndon Johnston who probably invented the race card.

Insofar as there are arguments to support the idea that capitalism has failed, they bring recall Hutt’s complaint that the success of capitalism in advancing the poor had generated outrage at the poverty that was to that time accepted as inevitable and eternal “the poor are always with us”. He pointed out that the spin was to blame capitalism as though it was the cause of the problem and not the solution.

The main point here is that the failures that upset the populists are caused by big government and the welfare state. Our task is to explain this in a way that recruits the young people who are victims of the mentality that “not to be a socialist at 20 is to lack a heart”. Gook luck with that in the current climate of debate with the demand for equality and minority rights weaponised with the aid of the mainstream media, “our” ABC and the social media. Boettke is up for the contest and there is some probing analysis of the situation in this chapter with the conclusion pointing again to the need for institutional solutions to institutional problems.

And to end on a brighter note “Despite the obvious frustrations with the establishment elite, it is a simple fact that 2015 was the first year in all of recorded human history when less than 10% of the world’s population were living in extreme poverty.” [278]

Wind and Other update, delivering 13% of demand.
In case you know people who are excited as more wind comes on line, remind them that this will increase the cost of power and reduce the reliability of supply.

Posted in Oppressive government, Rafe | 5 Comments

James Bartholomew and the communist museum of terror

James Bartholomew is best known these days as the man who popularised the term virtue signalling by using it to describe left wing posturing and posing in their support of “good causes” like saving the planet from carbon dioxide.

He is spending this month as a resident scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and one of his concerns is to conduct interviews with survivors and refugees from communist regimes. These will end up in the Museum of Communist Terror in London.

The Museum of Communist Terror aims to keep alive knowledge and understanding of the deaths, terror and economic failure that took place under Communist regimes, primarily in the 20th century. The strategy is to do this through social media, this website, talks and films for schools and universities, lobbying for improvements in the teaching of the history of Communist regimes, events and the creation of one or more small museums leading up to the development of a full-size museum in London. Video interviews are being made with people who have survived Communist oppression or whose lives have been affected. We are seeking to acquire artefacts for the Museum.

Posted in Rafe, Terrorism, War and peace | 22 Comments

The bang-your-head-against-a-wall theory of economic policy

I’m in the middle of writing a paper on Classical Economic Theory which has as its central theme how near impossible for someone educated within one school of economic thought to understand another. My own belief is that one can only understand an economic theory if one actually has at some stage thought it was valid.

But on the larger question whether economic theory can help us understand what to do, it is an unambiguous yes, if it’s classical economic theory, and for the most part if it’s Austrian. Otherwise, forget it. Modern economics is basically a bang-your-head-against-a-wall-theory because it feels so good when you stop.

This book, that has just come to my attention, because of a presentation next week by Alex Millmow which might be of interest if you are in the neighbourhood. I have, however, highlighted two bits from the ad for the book which make me very suspicious that she might really be able to help out any of us with much of anything at all.


(1) What do the ideas of Karl Marx tell us about the likely future for the Chinese economy?

(2) With globalization in trouble, what can we learn about handling Brexit and Trumpism?


(1) The more they pay attention to Marx, the worse their economic outcomes will be.

(2) If you are wondering how to “handle” Brexit and the economics of Donald Trump, you are already demonstrably incapable of understanding their natures or how and why they will improve things.

Anyway, here is the ad for the book and below is the ad for Alex’s presentation.

Front Cover
Since the days of Adam Smith, economists have grappled with a series of familiar problems – but often their ideas are hard to digest, even before we try to apply them to today’s issues. Linda Yueh is renowned for her combination of erudition, as an accomplished economist herself, and accessibility, as a leading writer and broadcaster in this field. In The Great Economists she explains the key thoughts of history’s greatest economists, how our lives have been influenced by their ideas and how they could help us with the policy challenges that we face today.

In the light of current economic problems, and in particular growth, Yueh explores the thoughts of economists from Adam Smith and David Ricardo to recent academics Douglass North and Robert Solow. She asks, for example, what do the ideas of Karl Marx tell us about the likely future for the Chinese economy? How do the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, who argued for government spending to create full employment, help us think about state intervention? And with globalization in trouble, what can we learn about handling Brexit and Trumpism?

Alex Millmow – Policy in the Pub: The Great Economists – Can their ideas can help us today?

Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Marshall, Hayek & Keynes. Just a few of the illustrious names from the history of economics but what can the ideas of history’s greatest economists tell us about the most important issues of our time? Join us for October’s Policy in the Pub to hear from Associate Professor Alex Millmow of Federation University and the President of the History of Thought Society of Australia (HETSA), who will discuss what (if anything) we can learn from the Great Economists. The title for this talk comes from a recent book by Linda Yueh “The Great Economists: How their ideas can help us today” and the talk will include a reflection and commentary on the issues it raises.

Event details: The evening is being held at 5.30pm Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at the Kelvin Club 14-30 Melbourne Place, just off Russell St. There will be drinks and nibbles from 5pm for those who can get there a bit earlier.

As always, to plan for numbers, please register.

Posted in Economics and economy | 9 Comments

The anatomy of a smear: demonise then merchandise

How it’s done from an expert. This is the text of what she said:

Pelosi: It’s called the wrap-up smear. . . . You smear somebody with falsehoods and all the rest and then you merchandise it.

And then you [the media] write it, and they’ll say, see it’s reported in the press – that this, this, this and this – so they have that validation that the press reported the smear, and then it’s called a ‘wrap-up smear.’ And now I’m going to merchandize the press’s report on the smear that we made.

Here, for example, and it is only just an example, are more than enough reasons to understand Christine Ford was not playing straight with the truth, none of which was pointed out in the media that was merchandising all the falsehoods the Democrats could conjure:

She refused to hand over the results of her polygraph

She refused to hand over her 2012 therapist’s notes

She said she was afraid to fly, but has flown dozens of times. 

Since she did in fact fly, she offered no other reason for the delay

She said she wanted anonymity but contacted [the Washington Post] multiple times

Said she got advice from “beach friends” but didn’t mention that the primary one was a former FBI lawyer, Monica McLean, who worked for Preet Bharara, a man Trump fired.

She also failed to mention, when talking of her Beach friends at the hearing, that Monica was sitting right behind her. 

She had a perfect memory of 1982 but couldn’t remember basic things from the previous 10 weeks

She’d been drinking. 

She changed the year of the alleged attack

She named 4 people, but had no backers

She couldn’t remember how she got home even though her story had her escaping the house far from home, pre-cell phone.

She gave no location or any details that could be researched for verification.

She never told anyone and never claimed PTSD prior to Kavanaugh’s name circulating 30 years later.

She said that she put the 2nd door on her house because of PTSD, but evidence shows it was to get around zoning laws to create a rentable apartment.

She said she didn’t know that Grassley offered to come to her, even though it was broadcast nationally.

She feigned no knowledge of polygraphs even though her ex’s sworn statement said she’d coached Monica McLean how to beat it in the 1990s, and in any case her profession should have at least well acquainted her with it.

She co-authored a paper on repressed memory creation years before she claimed to have one

Nothing is known of her pharmacology, but given her past alcoholism, her visits to a therapist and her general presentation, odds are high that it’s extensive.

She scrubbed her social media. We know from a pussy hat photo that she was rabidly anti-Trump. 

She had zero family or friends with her, not from the 80s nor from today. She was surrounded only by Democrat Party handlers.

Constant cries of bravery & “nothing to gain” vs a $700,000 GoFundMe and a career boosted a la Anita Hill

Literally all there is her word vs all of the above. Not a shred of evidence.

All that is different this time is that you have seen it before your eyes. The parties of the left in cahoots with the media wilfully warp your perceptions of what is in reality taking place. Without their lies and deceit, they would lose every election in a landslide.

Posted in Media, Politics of the Left | 68 Comments

The Barrier Reef is Rooned.

Don’t miss Jo Nova’s rejoinder to the call to make the next election a referendum on the GBR.

This news will come as a shock to corals on the Great Barrier Reef which are obliviously living across a range of 2,000 kilometers and a span of five degrees Celsius from 27 to 32°C. But these are magic numbers apparently, and half a degree hotter (which is all we are talking about) it will be 27.5 to 32.5°C which is numerology hell where baby corals go to die.

You and I might think that corals might just emigrate since they shed sperm and eggs in mass spawning events visible from space and have 112 sites known to reseed all damaged areas. But what would we know?

And what would a dumb coral know – possibly something after 200 million years of climate change, most of which was hotter.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 37 Comments

Boettke on Hayek and the reconstruction of the liberal project

Moving on to Chapter 10 in Boettke on Hayek. After the war Hayek convened a meeting with a group that became the Mont Pelerin Society. The aim was to keep the ideas and institutions of democratic capitalism of alive and also renewed and refreshed to cope with emerging challenges.

Boettke sees a need for this process to continue because we face a thinking problem more than a marketing problem. Surely we need to lift our game in both of those departments. A longstanding complaint is that had core libertarians (eg Randoids) might be prepared to put their bodies on the line for Liberty but they are not prepared to explain their ideas in language that resonates with the punters.

Boettke sees “serious problems from ideas emerging from a new generation of socialists on the left and from conservative movements on the right.” [258] Immediately we have a marketing problem. In Hayek’s essay on why he was not a particular type of conservative he described the triangle of forces with the left at one corner, the “conservatives” at another and the classical liberals at the third. The point is to get away from linear thinking about a left to right spectrum of positions that places us on the “right”. This is one of the most powerful rhetorical devices that the left can deploy and we set ourselves up to fail if we buy into it.

The ideas of the “non-left” include zero-state anarchism, libertarianism, classical liberalism, cultural conservatism, statism, the wrong kind of nationalism, religious fundamentalim, “rightwing populism” and incidentally fascism and racism. The term “right” in common use implicitly aggregates these ideas to the disadvantage of the mix of classical liberalism and cultural (and environmental) conservatism that can deliver peace, freedom and prosperity.

So I consider that using the label “right” for ourselves is practically is a free kick to the left every time and it is no help at all to try to rank different positions on the right along a spectrum in an attempt to distance ourselves from the “far right” or “lunatic right”. We are the lunatic right as far as the left are concerned.

Liberalism Is Liberal

Under this heading Boettke engages with the often-articulated views of left intellectuals, that for us “Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak and vulnerable – are all to take a back seat.” [263] This perception is so widespread among what used to be called the “educated public” that a combined thinking and marketing effort is required to correct it.

Something like “a robust moral framework” has to be included among the pillars of classical liberalism, alongside the rule of law, the full range of freedoms, non-discriminatory laws, justice and limited government. Step forward Deirdre McCloskey and Michael Novak (ok he is dead but you know what I mean). The framework would include honesty, self-reliance, community service, charity, prudence, civility and tolerance. It used to be promoted from every pulpit in the western world.

The emotional appeal of the left is based on ideas that were appropriate from Christianity and classical liberalism while the actual existing institutions of Christianity and classical liberalism are excoriated and subjected to relentless attack.

The idea of the welfare state gained traction because neither the 19th century conservatives or the workers understood how laissez faire capitalism was advancing the welfare of the able bodied poor and generating the wealth that could be channelled through private and charitable efforts to deliver all the necessary health, education and welfare services that socialists desire.

There is more in the chapter about populism that needs to be considered in another post. Now it is time to check what Wind & Other are doing and have breakfast.

Wind & Other are delivering 7.2% of demand.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics of the Left, Rafe | 55 Comments