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Three old reds

I was fortunate enough to drink three well-aged, red wines over the past few days. I’ll bet you are all glad to hear that and to have the opportunity to share, if only vicariously, in my pleasures. Its kind of ‘Will you buy me an ice-cream? No, but I’ll let you watch me eat it!’Besides […]

Sheik yet again

Sorry to harp on this but there is a real problem here.A point made by the Treasurer Peter Costello in relation to the ‘cat meat’ Mufti Sheik al-Hilali is that he made this obnoxious speech a month before it was reported and yet no-one in the Muslim community spoke out against it. Indeed 5,000 Muslims […]

Urban traffic congestion & the boom

This is a draft of a paper on urban traffic congestion I will present at The Australian-Melbourne Institute ‘Making the Boom Pay’ Conference, November 2-3, 2006. Comments are very welcome.Introduction

Demand-based economic policies, such as congestion tolls and market-based curb-side parking charges, should be tools for addressing congestion in Australia’s large cities. These policies are […]

Migration policy & the mufti

It is inevitable than the remarks of the ‘cat meat’ Mufti will reignite Australian migration debates – Michael Baume has made a start in today’s AFR (subscription only). The issue of changes in Australian migration laws are already being recognised in the Middle East and are implicit in the remarks of Pru Goward that the […]

Boundedly rational dope fiends

The paper by Suren Basov & Svetlana Danilkina, 2006, ‘A theory of boundedly rational addiction’ is the latest output of our drugs project. In my view its a nice piece that relaxes the constraints of the rational addiction model intelligently.

Much more to come at this site soon.


I picked this up from the Crooked Timber website (who got it from Reddit ) – it is a bit of fun if you have 3 minutes to spare – and probably really good if you have something to smoke – as an anti-dope campaigner I don’t!

Click here.

Disappointing inflation number

Inflation in Australia at an annual rate of 3.9% over the 3 months to September continues a streak of relatively high inflation figures well outside the RBA’s targeted range of 2-3%. The press have focused on the role of food and house prices – food prices should continue to increase due to the impact of […]

The Sheik’s views of women (and men)

I received hostile comments when I recently posted that the veil and the hijab reflected repressive attitudes of Islam towards women. I was told that wearing these clothes was an act of free fashion choice by Muslim women. I didn’t accept this claim then and still don’t.According to Australia’s most senior Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj […]

Rhino versus human values

In the Congo a remnant population of rhinoceros are being killed by hungry human militia. The population of rhino has fallen from 22,000 in the past to 900 today but 400 have apparently been killed in the past few weeks.Obviously the future of the population looks bleak. This raises the partly (though not entirely) hypothetical […]

A stunning poll on pokies

It looks likely according to current opinion polls that Labor will government again in Victoria.

The main prospect the opposition has to stage an upset is to promote its policy of substantially cutting back on poker machines.Quote:

87% of those surveyed supported Mr Baillieu’s policy — rejected by Labor — to cut poker machine numbers […]

Free public transport for the young

I am ambivalent about Mr Baillieu’s proposal to offer free public transport to young people and full time tertiary students in Victoria.Fares on buses and trains in Victoria are well above marginal cost (and a long way above social marginal cost given un-priced congestion externalities) but I do not believe these marginal costs are zero […]

Economist to head LaTrobe University

I’ve just heard that Professor Paul Johnson of London School of Economics has been selected to be appointed as the new Vice Chancellor at LaTrobe University. The appointment is subject to approval by the University Council. His CV is here. Professor Johnston is an economic historian and was formerly Deputy Director of the LSE. Background […]

I am concerned

I’ve been so worried lately. Hair greyer gut bigger memory increasingly unreliable unhappy with world isn’t producing enough Mozarts lots of affluence mediocre economics amok greenhouse gases climate change disappearing rainforests war in Iraq crumbling higher education excess taxes dangerous foods soft-drinks declining health social security inadequate old age care indigenous Australians nuclear family homosexual […]

Corporate crooks

Paul Krugman has this short piece providing perspective on how corporate executives are cheating the system. Its a welcome relief from political scandals and the war in Iraq.In the 1960’s and 1970’s, CEOs of the largest firms were paid 40 times the average worker. But professors at business schools provided a theory that justified even […]

Modesty & lust

I got caught up in a discussion on a Muslim blog, Austrolabe on veiling women. It didn’t get very far. I see the veil as a form of oppression primarily directed by male religious crazies who can’t handle their sex drives. Those on this blog see it as a free fashion choice by women who […]

Access Economics on obesity

The Access Economics report on obesity in Australia was funded by Sanofi Aventis one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.SA markets the new ‘wonder’ anti-obesity drug Acomplia (Rimonabant) which some reports suggest is a fairly limited way of attempting to lose weight. SA is also, helpfully, active in the market for diabetes medications – useful […]

Fat kids and leftwing supporters of laissez-faire

Teachers, principals and student councils oppose moves to restrict the sale of unhealthy foods in schools partly on the grounds it was important not to end up being ‘a nanny state’. The proposal involved, among other things, restricting the availability of greasy junk food to two occasions per term. One of the arguments was that […]

Fat Aussies

Access Economics’ estimate of the cost of obesity in Australia at $21 billion (about double the annual cost of Medicare) deserves careful scutiny but the final report has not yet been released.From snippets in the press concerning the report:

Obesity now afflicts 3.2 million Australians but might more than double to 7.2 million within […]


I am spending a couple of days in Sydney enjoying myself. Sydney is my home town and, despite my affection for Melbourne, I always get a kick out of this place. Sydney Harbour is spectacular enough to make the city comparable to other great harbour-based cities I have visited (Vancouver, San Francisco, Stockholm). But the […]

Becker and Posner on fat taxes

I have posted before on the questionable obesity tax (here, here, here) argument. Gary Becker and Richard Posner make similar points. Both both largely endorse my suggestions regarding soft-drink sales in schools (public schools in Victoria will ban such sales from the end of this year).

Becker. A tax on saturated fat would raise the […]