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John Kenneth Galbraith 1908-2006

John Kenneth Galbraith died yesterday at age 97. One of the giants of US liberal economics, Galbraith wrote for a mass audience – his controversial ideas on advertising and on the ‘revised sequence’ whereby large corporations, not consumers, were seen as deciding what would be produced, turned standard economic theory on its head.

I […]

Forever young

The lyrics in Alphaville’s ‘ageist’ song ‘Forever Young’ depress me a bit even though I like the tune. The song has been following me around the house as the kids listen to ‘video hits’ shows. The videoclip itself is here.What do you think? Is it such a bad thing to age? Are young people so […]

Taxing belief

According to The Age, tax exemptions to Australian churches cost federal, state and local government more than $500 million annually. Complaints about this have come from commercial operators who see the tax-free status as unfair competition and from local government. For example, a new hospital wing built by a church that competes with a private […]

Animal lovers

I have long been interested in animal liberation movement as it has been developed by Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation. I am interested in the philosophy as a source of conservation ethics but it seems to me the problem is complicated – conserving native species generally involves killing introduced, feral species and these […]

Increasing inequality a good thing

If you want to be first with a provocative new viewpoint go to the Becker-Posner blog on why increasing inequality is a good thing in the US (and, following Andrew Leigh’s valuable work, presumably Australian) economy because it correctly signals the increased value of human capital. Its a variant on the response that ‘increasing gaps’ […]

Mid-week review

I am pleased with how my new blog has progressed. Traffic has surged – I am not quite sure why it has been so sudden. And while most people do not make comments, I have enjoyed, and been informed by, the excellent comments that have been made.

Blogging takes a lot of time but the […]

Obesity & health: A case for public intervention?

An article by Dagan Miljkovicn in Choices, a new online journal from the American Agricultural Economics Association, looks at the short-run reasons for anti-obesity policies and the long-run historical evidence suggesting we are are all getting both fatter and healthier! An excellent article, summarised below.Short-run studies examine obesity and its claimed costs. Long-run studies examine […]


I didn’t make it to the ANZAC Day dawn service in Melbourne today – crowds stated to build up there from 4-30am to reach perhaps 30,000 – but I did attend the march that began at 8-50 am. It was a deeply moving but very happy occasion. Clear blue skies and cold Melbourne weather – […]

Stop now

The US should stop this now in Iraq.

Krugman on the current account

Paul Krugman’s gloomy story on the US current account.

The dangers of being too postmodern

I liked this succinct statement by David Williamson over at Crikey.

Soft drink banned in schools

I have long-defended the unpopular nutritional views of Robert Atkins. The specifics of his diet are questioned by many (not me) but there is no question he has successfully promoted the idea that obesity and diabetes problems are linked to carbohydrate consumption, and particularly consumption of sugars, not only the consumption of fats. The global […]

Problem gambling 1

Gambling has been a popular activity for thousands of years and was popular among Australian Aborigines, American Indians and ancient Chinese societies. While widely practiced, gambling has also long been condemned as irrational and a social evil. Thomas Moore in 1516 proposed, in Utopia, a society where the irrational was abolished – this included the […]

Mad Mahmoud

The fanaticism of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (MA) embrace of martyrdom creates difficulties in resolving tensions between Iran and the rest of the world over its use of nuclear technology. Mahmoud’s willingness to accept many potential Iranian deaths, and his hatred for Israel and the United States, mean that policy responses to prevent him from acquiring […]

Subsidising medical drugs

The Sunday Age’s ‘Cancer Drug Shame’ (followed by a supporting editorial) advocates the subsidized provision of various ‘biologicals’ for treating cancer patients irrespective of any assessment of their cost or effectiveness. The Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), it seems, are just not getting it right. Although drugs like Herceptin would cost ‘more than $140 million’, […]

Visy & Amcor: Spy-vs-spy-vs-spy….

I posted earlier on the case involving Amcor and Visy’s alleged cartel in the packaging market between 2000-2004. According to Amcor, the firms agreed not to take away each other’s customers and to charge hefty prices to established customers. The ACCC action on Amcor and Visy, seeks to prosecute the alleged cartel but exempts Amcor […]

English studies

The question was in an assessment task in March for advanced English students in Year 11 at SCEGGS Darlinghurst, NSW, an independent, private Anglican girls’ school in Sydney that charges $20,000 a year in fees for senior students.The assessment asked students to write an essay explaining how Othello supported different readings. ‘In your answer, refer […]

Widely-held strange beliefs

I followed a debate over at Larvatus Prodeo on the ‘Literary Studies Argy-Bargy’ that deepened somewhat yesterday when John Howard criticised the teaching of English in Australian schools. I entirely support John Howard’s view that English studies should not reflect post-modernist philosophy, feminism and Marxism. But that is not what I want to post on […]

Did you hear the bell?

The Treasurer Peter Costello has warned that the boom in commodity prices that Australia is enjoying will not last more than a couple of years. I agree – there has been a massive surge in commodity prices articulated here and here and, as the RBA have already suggested if we retain a flexible approach to […]

Brain food

There is fairly mixed evidence on whether videogames stimulate intelligence. Or do they encourage ‘nature deficit disorder’? Or do they make kids tense and fearful?

This new Nintendo game is actually intended to stimulate your brain.