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Handbook of the Birds of the World

Around 1992 the Spanish wildlife publisher Lynx began its 16 volume Handbook of the Birds of the World. It is an extraordinary achievement with hundreds of photographers and artists contributing and with a vast amount of general as well as specific ornithological information supplied. It is the only animal family to be completely chronicled in […]

Social insurance & the welfare state as substitutes for averting conflict

The development of the welfare state in the Western economies between 1930 and 1990 coincided with a puzzling pattern in the taxation of top incomes. Effective tax rates at the top increased sharply but then gradually decreased, even as social transfers continued rising. These authors propose a new theory of the development of the welfare […]

Evolution of bird watching

I have been a recreational bird watcher for about 20 years although I do less birdwatching these days than in the past.

In Australia, up to at least 1935, bird observers recorded their exploits by shooting birds with guns and laying out their carcasses on the ground after an expedition. This was accompanied by collecting […]

Nationals get water

One of the first decisions of Prime Minister Turnbull is to transfer responsibility for national water policy to the Nationals, specifically to Barnaby Joyce. Apart from the fact that this puts water in the hands of a particular interest group – water-using farmers – this makes me uneasy for two interrelated reasons. First, the main […]

Consensus on tax reform

The consensus on tax reform that is emerging (see e.g. AFR today, editorial, paywalled) is a continuation of the tax reform trends that have been around for at least two decades. The basic idea is to swap the tax mix around so that there are fewer adverse effects on working, saving, investing and taking risks. […]

DVD rental stores & history.

DVD rental stores have been buffeted by competition and technological change in a way that is fascinating to students of business history. A fun thing to consider too because simple perceptions here drive justifiable economic knowledge and insight.

I once had 4 of DVD rental stores within 2 km of my home. Now there are […]

Congestion Pricing & Infrastructure Australia (amended repost)

I have been glancing through the 3-part report by Infrastructure Australia (a summary here) on Australia’s infrastructure needs over coming decades. I was mainly interested in the transport sector and proposals that looked – on casual reading of the press – like yet another case for user charges (congestion charging and heavy vehicle charging for […]

Pension reform (amended repost)

The reforms on eligibility for the pension that Labor has opposed seem sensible to me, The current eligibility for a part pension (for a couple) is $1.15m in assets whereas under the proposed Coalition-cum-Green reform this is reduced to $823,000.

Suppose couples want to leave no bequests and that they own a house worth $650,000. […]

Plain packaging (repost from Blogger)

Ireland has followed Australia in introducing plain packaging of cigarettes. David Prentice and I gave an interview on the Australian experience and its implications for such countries in The World Customs Organisation News, February 2015, Vol 76, pages 62-64. This type of work David and I did on plain packaging won’t get prestigious academic awards […]

Tax reform economics

I am interested that the two dominant ideas in tax economic theory over the last 40 years seem to diminish or downplay the case for redistributive taxes.

First, there are the strong arguments on income taxes from James Mirrlees (1971), and a plethora of followers, which places a premium on relatively flat income tax schedules […]

My blog up and running again

I got my February 2006 – January 2015 WordPress blog up and running today thanks to my US hosting service Bluehost. I have used this service for about 5 years and recommend it. Inexpensive and high quality.

Everything now seems to work – themes and links to FaceBook. I could try to transfer a set […]