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Droughts & flooding rains again

It was miserable weather in Melbourne again today – cold and wet – and further rain is expected over the weekend. To whinge a bit more: 6 the last 7 times I’ve played golf I’ve got drenched and it was a repeat on Saturday and today (updated).

I’ve been reading about the 1997-2009 drought – […]

Open the gates to humanitarian migrants?

Jessica Irvine in the SMH suggests that we simply “open the gates” to all refugees/asylum seekers. There are around 40 million of them but her argument seems to be that we are a rich country and the demand for entry to Australia specifically is currently only of the order of 50,000 per year. Of course […]

Moral hazard & the boat people fiasco

It seems yet another boatload of people has faced the possibility of sinking in Indonesian waters but, with the distinctive features that: (i) The attempted sinking (it seems) was engineered by those on board and; (ii) that those on board had the foresight to have satellite phones with the phone number of the Australian Federal […]

Foolish assaults on the AFR

I always enjoyed John Quiggin’s columns in the AFR. They were thought-provoking. I was disappointed when his column was terminated. More generally I get much of my news from the AFR. The articles there are punchier and better quality than the mainstream non-bogan press in Victoria such as The Age. The Australian has lost all […]

Victorian taxi market reforms

I attended a meeting today on proposed reforms for the Victorian taxi industry prepared by former ACCC guru Allen Fels with a major input by David Cousins. Opening the PDF version of the Fels Draft Report (here) at least gives you a helpful contents page to what is a long document. There is an executive […]

Did the earth move for you in Melbourne last night?

Last night’s earthquake (here) was the third I have experienced in Melbourne and of scale 5.3 – the last, in 2009, being much milder. Last night I noticed a very noisy outside disturbance which I assumed was a gust of wind striking the house or the trees hard. Then the room I was sitting in […]

Media ownership by buffoons

It is a tragedy that the Fairfax group have fallen on hard times and seem destined to be run by the right-wing philistine Gina Rinehart. The Fairfax press – despite imperfections associated particularly with The Age – still represents the best quality media in this country. This will mean that most of the print (and […]

Reforming car insurance

We know that as a rule the probability of a car accident increases with the distance you drive – for some background on these costs see here. There are also of course personal factors – young hormonal males, for example, are more accident prone. A useful efficiency-based reform that has appeared in insurance markets is […]

Will humanity perish (soon)?

Yes it is an untypically narrow question but with zero expertise…..I’ll have a go. With no background in the relevant cosmology or philosophy area I have been reading philosopher John Leslie’s The End of the World. It has always seemed to me that accounting for possibilities, such as the end of the human species, in […]

Elinor Ostrom dead

An amazing economist who didn’t make a lot of noise. She looked, she measured and she thought. None of the inconsequential, high-tech nonsense that plagues the economics profession, just a great social scientist whose work on common property will drive the profession forwards. She drove experimental and institutional economics and (on a personal level) made […]

Market & non-market policies for managing dangerous drug use

Economists are naturally interested in markets for licit and illicit drugs. This market-based view of drug issues is a plausible way of looking at society-wide drug issues since both licit and illicit drugs are sold in markets and the market-based approach permits an assessment of both direct and indirect consequences of policies in terms of […]

Pollies work for James Packer in NSW

The Australian Labor Party have enjoyed an ongoing love affair with the Australian gambling industry (here, here, here etc). The latest romance between Packer and the pollies is panning out beautifully in NSW. A second casino for Sydney makes money-sense for James Packer – he can drag in more millions from desperate problem gamblers – […]

New bird for La Trobe University?

I walk around the beautiful campus at La Trobe University many mornings simply to enjoy the landscapes and to get some exercise. The last few mornings I have seen Brown quail between the Sports Field Lake and the Austrian Club – actually almost adjacent to the lake. This morning I saw 10 quail on a […]

Right-wing lunacy at Catallaxy

Samuel J at Catallaxy puts principal blame for the global financial crisis on the global introduction of policies to address climate change.

Update: Samuel J corrects a typo in my comment above – I guess that is a some sort of response – and now says that he was only engaging in “musing” and that […]

Changing political views

John Quiggin has a post on people who switch from one side of politics to the other – from “left” to “right” or visa versa. There are profound semantic issues here that, if taken seriously, can trivialise the analysis of such shifts – most of us are, in fact, social democrats. However despite this broad […]