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The road to nowhere

I found the recent Four Corners documentary on the aboriginal settlement Imanpa deeply troubling. The show itself isn’t available on the web – the transcript is here and background information here – but you did need to watch as well as listen to pick up the dimensions of this situation of hopeless despair. Imanpa is […]

US as a failed state?

An excerpt from Noam Chomsky’s new book Failed States is available at The Independent Online. Not surprisingly I don’t agree with this analysis.Chomsky has three main criticisms of the US as a ‘failed state’:

1. It fails to protect its own citizens. US failures are contributing to the likelihood of nuclear war and environmental disaster […]

Municipal waste – I just love it

My affection for waste disposal economics stems from my interests in the environment rather than any bizarre fetishism. I have already discussed Productivity Commission proposals to abandon plans to eliminate plastic bags by 2008 and, in an earlier post, analysed the remarkable economics of sewage disposal at the Western Treatment plant.

According to the Draft […]

Videos for economics 101

Truck and Barter provides a useful list of web-based video resources for introductory economics units here. On top of their list are Video Economics and Brad De long’s Morning Coffee Videocasts.According to T&B the University of Munich have video lectures including a debate between James Buchanan and Richard Musgrave.

The World Bank and IMF have […]

Random blogwalk

John Quiggin makes a sensible re-post on the nuclear power debate and on connections with global warming denialism that I found sharp. It gives a good general perspective. The New York Times discusses issues of carbon capture in coal-fired plants – the most plausible alternative to nuclear but a technology which is not catching on […]

Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla is a new, visually-attractive literary blogsite, which already has good posts. I thought Wendy’s post on the demise of the novel was provocative. This mainly concerns a claimed decline in the quality of the modern novel and the terrible fact that modern writers need not be poor.

I am also interested (as an economist) […]

Taxing booze again

I have previously argued the case for volumetric rather than value-based taxes on booze. If external costs are identified with alcohol consumption then it makes sense to tax alcohol content not the value of alcoholic products. To some extent this is already done through lower taxes on light beers.This issue can be directly connected to […]

Multiplex

The Australian firm Multiplex Constructions (MC) (part of the Multiplex Group) bills itself on its website as offering construction services and a ‘highly successful track record of delivering large, complex projects on budget and often ahead of schedule’ If I was MC I would rewrite this part of their website description – it just looks […]

Bad uranium economics

Brian Toohey in the Weekend Australian Financial Review (subscription required) states that:

‘Nuclear energy is more financially viable in countries without Australia’s low cost coal and natural gas reserves’.This argument seems fallacious. As Australia sells coal and gas in international markets they – as with the U3O8 they export – have an opportunity cost that […]

Overfishing catastrophes

A 2004 Government report showed that most of Australia’s ocean fisheries are either over-fished or have uncertain status – there is not enough information to determine their status. Of 74 species, 14 were over-fished, 40 were uncertain and 17 were not over-fished. Last year the Australian Government set aside $220 million to help downsize the […]

Bachelor of Business

A significant development in undergraduate business education around the world over the last decade or so has been the growth of Bachelor of Business (B.Bus) Degrees. These degrees have the stated (and laudable) intention of giving students a broad-based education in business skills.While this intention is admirable there is controversy about whether commercially-oriented motives to […]

Music

I’ve got a good collection of recorded music – about 500 music CDs and a large number of audio tapes (I like the tape sound) plus several hundred record albums.Living in Melbourne over the last decade I have enjoyed live classical music at the Melbourne Arts Centre (Melbourne Symphony, the youthfully, magnificent Australian Chamber Orchestra […]

Losers or victors?

Tony Blair and George Bush are in terminal decline are they not because of the Iraq war? A typically spot-on piece by Frank Devine in The Australian suggests perhaps not.Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, writes:

‘President Bush has not made the most crucial mistake: he has not lost his […]

Doublespeak

Crikey today gave us some entertaining and accurate examples of doublespeak.

“Close personal friend” – lover“Assisting police with inquiries” – guilty“Sources close to Michael Kroger” – Michael Kroger“Kerry Packer’s friend” – Kerry Packer’s mistress“Colourful character” – a crook.“Flamboyant” – gay“Tired and emotional” – drunk“I’ve decided to spend more time with the kids” – sacked“The CEO […]

Mid-week review

The limitations of the Blogger software I use are becoming apparent with time and I am thinking of a switch to WordPress. The latter is ‘geekish’ which worries me as I am not a computer geek. Blogger, while simple to use initially, can be awkward in simple ways. For example, the list of posts you […]

John Winston Howard’s moral complacency

Robert Manne discusses John Howard’s lack of anguish for the consequences of the war in Iraq. According to RM John Howard does not understand the gravity of the allied actions in Iraq.RM is upset that JH is not agonising over the difficulties the allies are encountering. The war he claims, is unjust and immoral and […]

Waste, trash, garbage

What attracts me to garbage? That invites a potentially impolite response but it has been a long-standing fascination. The Productivity Commission released its draft Waste Generation and Resource Efficiency report today and it promises to be a good read – it’s a long document so it will take environmental analysts time to get their head […]

Aboriginal men attacking aboriginal women & children

The cartoon isn’t funny at all. But it does make a sad point that people tend to treat the terrible violence described in the press recently against aboriginal women and children as an ‘aboriginal problem’ that can be excused in cultural terms. It isn’t – it is a human problem and a problem in white […]

Public housing for aborigines

Looking at this photo of an aboriginal kitchen from The Australian one might ask where’s the Spray & Wipe? Apart from the dirt, the dog and the food scraps lying around it is not a bad looking kitchen. There is a modern stove and what looks like a freezer. The kitchen itself is not faulty […]

Conserving biodiversity in suburbia: Waterways Estate

I support maintaining biodiversity conservation zones close to the centers of large cities despite the fact that such land has a high opportunity value in urban or industrial uses.There are two reasons for my preference:

(i) Costs of accessing such resources are low for city-dwellers so that, in simple terms, their existence yields lots of […]