A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Daft Coalition Policy #10: Unwarranted drought assistance

The move by the Abbott Government to provide $320m to farmers experiencing drought is terrible, not merely inconsistent, economic policy. The move undoes 5 years of reforms to drought assistance arrangements initiated by previous governments although the Gillard Government did some equally daft things. Australia experiences regular “droughts” as a part of its normal climate. […]


I enjoyed and (I hope) personally profited from Roy Baumeister & John Tierney’s Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. The link gives a better book review than I could hope to write but this a special book. It analyses our ability to say “no” to temptation (to use heroin, to eat excessively, to fritter our […]

Chinese home buyers

It is incorrect to simply say (as Clive Hamilton does) that Chinese purchases of Australian homes disadvantage Australians because local consumers have to pay more for their homes. The error lies in considering only the consumer surplus losses to local consumers but not recognising the gains in seller surplus to local sellers and the latter […]

Costs of alcohol

I am going to a talk organised by ACIl Allen Consulting tomorrow on “Counting the Costs of Alcohol”. The main point made in their initial discussion paper is that some people believe the gross costs of alcohol should be targeted while others think that only the external costs should be included. This is a very […]

Worsening droughts with climate change

Tony Abbott might be correct that climate change is not responsible for the current drought but he would be irresponsible to assert that future drought patterns will be independent of climate change.

There is, in fact, evidence published by our own Bureau of Meteorology that El Nino effects – and hence droughts – will have […]

Water shortages

I get The Guardian weekly and, over recent months, it has run an excellent serious of articles on global water (especially groundwater) shortages. I know a bit about the situation in China and India but the problems faced by California and the Middle East are also huge. The situation is grim and could lead to […]

Solow versus Mankiw on the 1%ers

Bob Solow comments on Greg Mankiw’s defence of the “1%” ers and Mankiw replies. I think Solow wins the day – most of the big fortunes these days stem from the finance sector and from trading. It is not from super-marketing, deal-making types like Steve Jobs (Mankiw’s hero) although even there are spivy oh so […]

Sugary lies

In the current issue of NewScientist it is reported that in 2013 the US Sugar Association applied pressure on the US Congress to drop US funding of the WHO because its new food guidelines included strict suggested limits on the role of sugar in the diet. More information is in this Guardian report. Sugar is […]

Thailand facing civil war

What is happening in Thailand comes close to open class warfare – it can spill over into full-blown civil war rather than just sporadic gun fights unless the opposition Democrats back down and reengage with the political process. They refused to engage in elections yesterday because, even though they oppose the current government, they know […]

Fact check on plain packaging

Claims by paid consulting firms for a firm producing cancer-causing tobacco products that “plain packaging” have failed are wrong. The evidence they produce is inconclusive in statistical terms. Other evidence suggests there have been negative effects on consumption levels and participation in smoking. The problem with the argument of London Economics is that they do […]