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John Ashfield aged 6

This story damaged my day. Why is someone from the Department of Community Services not in jail? Why the need to suppress information about this little boy’s death?

Krugman on Murdoch

Paul Krugman expresses his opposition to Rupert Murdoch’s intended purchase of the Wall Street Journal. He argues that Murdoch’s commercial motivations mean that US citizens have been misled on issues such as the war in Iraq.

‘The problem with Mr. Murdoch isn’t that he’s a right-wing ideologue. If that were all he was, he’d […]

Professor Max Corden on Immigration

I am attending the Dynamics, Economic Growth and International Trade Conference organised by the Asian Economics Centre, University of Melbourne. Apart from participating in a panel on Climate Change and Economic Growth I am also providing a brief commentary on the contributions to the economics of immigration of one of Australia’s most important contributors to […]

Science, prejudice & smoking

Ryo Nakajima in the Review of Economic Studies (subscription required) considers the role of ‘peer effects’ on the decision to smoke among teenagers. To what extent do teens smoke because their friends smoke? This is an important question since one quarter of US youth are smokers when they finish school. You could guess that peer […]

Catch-up politics

In light of the government’s broadband reaction this week as well as to climate changes over the last six months, ‘Is there merit in catch-up politics’? (Blogocracy-organised group blog (Joshua Gans, Tim Dunlop, Ken Parish, Kim, Robert Merkel, Andrew Bartlett and Tigtog, question 3).

My answer to this is a ‘two-handed’ economist response – on […]

Old red wines

I enjoyed two great old vintage wines last night with old friend Chongwoo and his kin. A 1976 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet-Shiraz for a pre-dinner warm-up was, I thought, in excellent condition – Chongwoo thought it a bit faded. These very old wines are a matter of taste – they don’t appeal to all. […]


This is an interesting New York Times blog containing an interesting argument by Stanley Fish. The atheist’s claim that God does not exist – because actual religions are a bundle of contradictions that could not possibly be constructed by an omniscient God – does not undermine the case for the existence of God. Nor, of […]

Fatal car accidents & car speed

Tim Blair criticises the idea that small reductions in speed can greatly reduce the probability of a car accident. I think on this occasion he is incorrect.

I forget much of my high school physics but isn’t it true that impact is proportional to mass and speed squared? Thus increasing speed from 60 to […]

Parading their own defects

In relation to emergency measures taken in the Northern Territory, in relation to indigenous affairs, Glenn Milne in The Australian today – says it better than I ever could.

The irresponsible leftwing blogs, the claims by David Marr and Peter Harcher in the SMH that the proposed Federal takeover of indigenous affairs policy is militaristic […]

Setting up new computers with musical finale

I’ve set up new computers (one desktop, two laptops) in my home using Windows Vista Ultimate and the new Microsoft Office 2007. The only hitch that took me several hours to unravel was that the cable modem connection I needed required an ethernet not a USB cable. Everything eventually clicked and was in apparently good […]

Impacts of new grog & porn policies on indigenous Australians

As I noted in an earlier post the Federal Government will ban alcohol and pornography in aboriginal towns and communities in the Northern Territory and deliver half of government welfare payments to Aboriginal parents in the form of vouchers to make sure the money is spent on food and essential items. Government payments will be […]

Nicotine the wonder drug?

I have previously posted a satirical piece on the health benefits of smoking. If you are thinking about the costs and benefits of tobacco it is very important to distinguish between non-smoking consumption of tobacco (by eating it, sniffing it or even inserting it up your rectum – yes this was done for centuries) and […]

Banning grog & porn to cut child abuse

Levels of child abuse in Australian aboriginal communities are completely over the top – there is systematic abuse of young kids in many communities. Young girls and boys are routinely taken as sexual partners. Often the abuse is preceded by alcohol consumption and by the viewing of pornography. The Prime Minister’s move to ban alcohol […]

Efficiency-driven policies to encourage the Chinese to clean up their CO2 act

China last year overtook the US as the largest national emitter of CO2. This will crystallize preexisting concerns among developed countries that China’s emissions (as well as those of Indonesia and India) will need eventually to be controlled.

I have suggested two approaches to dealing with this issue:(i) Introducing an international carbon tax with […]

Working in a call centre

The Four Corners show ‘Tough Calls’ telecast Monday dealt with the introduction of new management styles in Telstra call centers. The show made me rethink. As an economist I teach the principles that are being employed by Telstra but, to be honest, I have never been in a call centre and in fact I have […]

Bow wave of the Sydney cyclone

As an ex-surfer (yonks ago!) in the Sydney area this picture made me gasp. The accompanying story is pretty good too. Tim Blair is providing an armory of resources for tracking the current path of the cyclone about to hit Sydney. On Tuesday 10-15pm, as I type this, it looks like it is about to […]

Mr. Brendan Keilar

Yesterday in Melbourne a 43-year old male solicitor, Brendan Keilar, came to the rescue of an obviously distressed woman being violently dragged by a male from a taxi in Flinders Lane. The attacker responded by shooting the solicitor in the chest – he died an hour later. Mr Keilar was a brave man who didn’t […]

More porkies from climate change denialists?

One suggestion (due to denialist Ross McKitrick) that is doing the rounds (Pommygranate, Tim Blair) is that carbon taxes should be tied to current degrees of global warming. This idea is flawed because climate change occurs with a lag in response to greenhouse gas emissions. NewScientist describes the lag:

‘The time lag occurs because rising […]

Election polls and gambling markets

According to the AC Neilson poll Labor has hung onto a landslide lead against the Government’s sustained assault even though John Howard strongly outstrips Kevin Rudd on leadership and economic credentials and is regarded as having a better grasp of foreign policy. Kevin Rudd is seen as more open to ideas than John Howard. Labor […]

Alcohol, addiction, congestion, migration & biodiversity

I have put online some recent papers of mine. Comments are welcome.

Thinking About Alcohol Policy. A reasonably liberal approach to the issue of regulating alcohol use.

The case against the case against skilled migration. An argument refuting suggestions Australia does not derive long-term gains from skilled migration. Awful double negatives I know.

Conserving biodiversity […]