For the usual reasons (life intruding on blogging) i am going to have to take a short break from blogging.
Will still be visiting other blogs and commenting and such like, writing for the Australian Libertarian Society and helping the LDP make some progress in the forthcoming Federal Elections.
Hopefully i won't be too long.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
For the usual reasons (life intruding on blogging) i am going to have to take a short break from blogging.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:24 AM
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In September, Sydney will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. APEC is an inter-government forum which aims to facilitate economic growth and prosperity, cooperation, trade and investment within the Asia-Pacific region.
A bunch of anti-globalisation and Stop Bush demonstrators plan to march through the city to 'protest against the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The protest will also call for urgent action to stop environmental destruction and for the defence of workers’ rights.'
The LDP will be holding our own demonstration in Martin's Place on Saturday morning in support of free trade. Free trade (not foreign aid) is the only effective means of dragging the world's poor our of poverty. That is why it is vital. The best defence of worker' rights are free trade and a deregulated labour market. Countries with these two policies in place have the lowest unemployment rates and the highest standard of living.
We are no fans of Bush's disastrous policies in Iraq (though Afghanistan is more complex and certainly a more morally valid conflict), but do not share GreenLeft's view that he is 'the world’s leading mass murderer and climate vandal' nor do we 'reject the idea that non-violence is the only tactic that can be used in the battle against oppression.'
A peaceful demonstration is our aim. We are not violent thugs.
The itinery for the day is as follows:-
Please come along and join us if you share these aims.
Saturday 8th September 2007
9:00am - Meet at the corner of York and Market Street on street level above the post office. This is across the intersection from the North-West corner of the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). There will be a short briefing with any last minute updates.
9:20am - Make our way as a group toward Hyde Park.
10:00am - 11:30am - Take our message of freedom to the people.
Update; these are the type of uneducated children who will be chanting school-yard slogans,
'The Liberty and Democracy Party are a bunch of Australian igno-douches halfway between 1st year economics and their first graduate jobs in the p.r./marketing/banking sector. But they’re not all poorly educated assholes.
Some of them are just assholes.
Anyway, the whole globalisation, workplace slavery, environmental degradation, planetary pollution, exponentiation of inequality, stealing land, killing villages, two-party police state bound by economic monotheism thing is going so badly (obviously) that these fans of John Laws think their mighty voices, tiny minds and hunger for media ops are needed at APEC.
So get along and check them out. Take urine.'Charming.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:52 AM
Paul Sheehan, writing in the SMH, argues that
'The real question facing the Federal Government, and the overwhelming majority of taxpayers who pay for SBS but rarely watch it, is whether SBS should continue to exist at all.'
(For those outside Australia, the SBS is a state-owned and run free-to-air TV channel roughly equivalent to BBC2). Sheehan continues,
'The Special Broadcasting Service Act should be repealed, the corporation dismantled and sold and its valuable broadcasting spectrum auctioned off. SBS has outlived its charter, and the charter has always been of dubious social utility. (I quote, in part: "As far as practicable, inform, educate and entertain Australians in their preferred languages.")''According to SBS projections, during the next five years, the Federal Government will spend almost $1 billion to keep the corporation afloat. And then there's the opportunity costs of the digital spectrum given to SBS by the Howard Government.'
SBS was set up to provide Australians with a multicultural array of TV programs in an era of just two or three stations. Today, by subscribing to Foxtel, one can receive hundreds of such multicultural stations and foreign news 24/7. SBS averages a market share of just 5.4% of network TV viewers. It no longer serves any useful purpose.
The LDP believes that SBS, along with the ABC should be fully privatised.
Governments simply should not be in the business of owning and running TV stations. Their role is to regulate content to ensure standards are met and advertisers' claims are valid. The market is amply served and competition is rife, ensuring a large and diverse selection of TV channels to consumers at a good price.
The money can be better utilised building a Australia's much-needed broadband network or simply handed back to taxpayers to spend on a Foxtel subscription if that is what they want.
Posted by pommygranate at 7:42 AM
Monday, August 27, 2007
Comedian Pat Condell on the growing menace of religious, especially Islamic, intolerance.
'Cultural sensitivity be damned. Some things are more important. Peaceful protest and free speech are not negotiable. Anyone who's offended by that, should damn well stay offended. Personal faith should stay personal.'
via Pub Philosopher
Posted by pommygranate at 8:13 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The new 2007 Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings are out.
- Harvard tops again (miles ahead of its nearest competitor)
- 17 of the Top 20 are American, 2 are English (Cambridge and Oxford) and 1 is Japanese
- 39 of the Top 50 are American
- The highest placed Aussie Unis are the Australian National University (57) and the Univ of Melbourne (79)
- Alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
- Staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
- Highly cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories
- Articles published in Nature and Science
- Articles in Science Citation Index-expanded, Social Science Citation Index
- Academic performance with respect to the size of an institution
Posted by pommygranate at 11:04 PM
Isn't income equality the primary goal of socialists?
Well, in that case, why does Freedom (free trade, capitalism, deregulated markets)....
...correlate so perfectly with Social and Income Equality?
Dark green - most equal societies
Dark red - most unequal societies
So, if socialism guarantees income inequality, then, err, what's its point?
Posted by pommygranate at 9:59 AM
Today's protectionist drift is similar to the challenges faced by the architect of the original New Deal. In August 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt declared;
'This Government intends no injury to honest business. The processes we follow in seeking social justice do not, in adding to general prosperity, take from one and give to another. In this modern world, the spreading out of opportunity ought not to consist of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In other words, we are concerned with more than mere subtraction and addition. We are concerned with multiplication also -- multiplication of wealth through cooperative action, wealth in which all can share.'
An interesting article in Foreign Affairs magazine by Kenneth F. Scheve, Professor of Political Science at Yale University and Matthew J. Slaughter, Professor of Economics at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, accuses globalisation of failing to spread the wealth and recommends higher taxes for the rich to avert a protectionist backlash.
'Globalization has brought huge overall benefits, but earnings for most U.S. workers -- even those with college degrees -- have been falling recently; inequality is greater now than at any other time in the last 70 years. Whatever the cause, the result has been a surge in protectionism. To save globalization, policymakers must spread its gains more widely. The best way to do that is by redistributing income.'
The authors argue that US policy is turning more protectionist because the US public is turning more protectionist, and the reason is stagnant incomes for all groups except the very richest. The 109th Congress introduced 27 pieces of anti-China legislation, the Doha Trade round is in tatters and other developed nations, particularly France, are upping the anti-foreigner rhetoric.
They then argue that this is a deeply worrying trend as globalisation has been so economically beneficial for both the US (adding $1 trillion to its economy and doubling its worker productivity) and for the developing world, creating an entire new middle class in less than a generation in places such as India and China.
They cite the three commonly expressed opinions as to why globalisation is faltering;
i) the successful lobbying efforts of a few industries that have been hit the hardest (e.g. farmers and manufacturers)
ii) policy makers and the business community have failed to make the case for free trade effectively.
iii) the need to balance economic interests with national security concerns has resulted in a more protectionist stance.
But they go on to dismiss all three arguments and lay the blame squarely at stagnating incomes and the uneven distribution of incomes. They point to data showing an 11% rise in real median wages versus a 58% rise for those in the 90th percentile of income and 121% for those in the 99th percentile. Another way of looking at this data is the CEO/worker ratio which has jumped from 80x in the 1980s to 425x in 2005 (see graph above). the last time data such as this appeared was in 1928 - just before the Great Depression (caused ironically by a rise in protectionism).
A combination of globalised free trade and high immigration is exerting immense pressure on wages of the low-skilled and they know it. Hence politicians (all the Democrat nominees for the Presidency are espousing some protectionist policies) are merely responding to growing resentment amongst the population.
The authors argue that supporters of free trade now face a stark choice; ensure workers share more of the spoils or accept that liberalisation is no longer sustainable. Given how important free trade is for the US economy, they argue that tax breaks must be distributed to the poorest workers to be paid for by the richest. Their solution is to eliminate payroll tax (15%) for those workers earning below the median wage and to increase them for the richest.
Update; Jason Soon points me to this very interesting paper. The authors point out that whilst income inequality is indeed rising, inequality by race and sex are rapidly diminishing, especially for American black and Latino women.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:28 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Chris Dillow asks why 'market neutral' hedge funds have performed so badly of late. (Market neutral means they are supposed to be indifferent to the ups and downs of the stock market because the are 'neutral' the market by being both long and short stocks.)
Having worked in the industry for many years, perhaps i can enlighten,
i) Hedge Funds are never 'market neutral'. They are generally long stocks with upwards momentum (e.g. commodity stocks, banks) and short those out of favour (conglomerates, healthcare).
ii) They invariably all have the same trades on. When the market turns, they all try and get out at the same time. Officially this is known as 'illiquid markets' or 'dislocation'. Unofficially this is called 'panic'.
iii) In a rising market, they tend to be an awful lot 'longer' than they are 'shorter' (i.e. they own far more stocks than they are 'short'). They should probably be called 'market neutral-ish'.
iv) In the golden days (pre-2003), HFs used to be able to genuinely 'arbitrage' the markets (put on riskless trades) because there were so few hedge funds. Now that every dog and his wife is a HF manager, these arbitrage opportunities are long gone. Now they are just stock pickers with a track record no better than a monkey throwing darts at the WSJ.
v) HFs are not asset managers. They are fee-generating machines with an attached asset management business.
vi) There are Two Golden Rules.
a) Golden Rule No.1 is "Never accept money paying less than '2 and 20'". i.e. never accept fees that don't pay 2% annually plus 20% of all performance. Some good HFs only take 20% excess performance (the return over the risk free rate). But this hard to do so they tend not to.
b) Golden Rule No. 2 is 'Always play with OPM' (other people's money). OPM is much easier to lose and much less painful than your own.
vii) The ultimate fee-machines are 'Fund of Funds'. These really are modern alchemy - they turn client assets into fees. Brilliant and simple. Their after-fee returns are similar to a Treasury bond (5%) but not quite so good.
viii) HF managers all work in three streets in London - Berkely Square, Curzon St and St. James'. They all drink at the same bars, attend the same parties, and are paying alimony to the same divorced wives.
ix) HF managers are all 'long a call option'. This means that they incentivised by their firms to bet the house. If they are right, they are paid on average 10% of whatever they make. This can and often does amount to millions of dollars. If they are wrong, they are fired and re-appear fully refreshed after a month's vacation at another HF.
x) In order to keep the client money rolling in, HFs have to show to the world that they really do make outsized returns. Hence these ever ingenious folk have come up with a unique concept - 'survivor bias'. This means that the HF Indices showing overall returns exclude those HFs that have gone bust (about 1 in 5 each year) so blostering the average returns. Neat, huh?
All HF managers are aware of these ten points and all know the game will soon be up. Hence all are gambling furiously with your money right now before the ref blows the whistle for full-time.
Posted by pommygranate at 2:02 PM
A quite extraordinarily scathing attack on the IPCC has just been published by four leading Australian scientists.
The Australian Federal Parliament's Standing Committee on Science and Innovation recently completed a report entitled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, on the subject of "Geosequestration of Carbon Dioxide". However, four members of that committee have issued a "Dissenting Report" which devastates the Committee's major premise — that mankind causes global warming.
The dissenting MPs are former CSIRO scientist Dr. Dennis Jensen, Hon Jackie Kelly, Hon Danna Vale and Mr. David Tollner. Their report was compiled with the assistance of a number of leading scientists, including climate scientist Dr. John Christy, former lead author of the IPCC.
They state at the very outset that,
"We disagree with the report's unequivocal support for the hypothesis that global warming is caused by man—so-called anthropogenic global warming (AGW). We are concerned that the Committee's report strays well outside its terms of reference.'
Their objections are as follows;
Climate change is a natural phenomenon that has always been with us, and always will be. Whether human activities are disturbing the climate in dangerous ways has yet to be proven. It is for this reason that we strongly disagree with the absolute statements and position taken in this review regarding AGW. We have taken no evidence regarding the science of AGW, yet a strong position has been taken regarding this.
i) The science related to anthropogenic global warming is not, despite the assurances of some, settled in the scientific community. In particular, Yuri Israel, Vice Chairman of the IPCC, has stated ‘There is no proven link between human activity and global warming’.
ii) The critical area of the fallibility and shortcomings of computer modelling is not mentioned anywhere. iii) There is no detectable warming in the lower troposphere, the place where the enhanced greenhouse effect is claimed to be evident. iv) The observed surface warming that is highlighted by the IPCC must therefore have a different cause, which is probably the biasing of the records by urban heat effects. v) The full IPCC report ...represents a consensus of government representatives rather than of scientists. vi) There are also other scientific factors that contribute to climate that are not even considered by the IPCC, such as the role of cosmic ray activity in cloud formation. vii) Warming has also been observed on Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Pluto, Neptune and others. It is the natural property of planets with fluid envelopes to have variability in climate. Thus, at any given time, we may expect about half the planets to be warming. This has nothing to do with human activities. viii) Science is a discipline which relies on testing hypotheses and exposing flaws, not on consensus, in order to further scientific understanding. Scientific fact is not a democracy. The laws of physics are not subject to the democratic vote of a group of scientists; they cannot be repealed by a popular vote. ix) The report on geosequestration also gives a false impression of the importance of carbon dioxide on the greenhouse effect. All of the gases mentioned in section 2.5 are minor contributors to greenhouse. Between 75%-95% of the greenhouse effect is the result of water vapour and cloud. The understanding of the influence of the latter is low, by the IPCC’s own admission. x) Doubling CO2 will only increase the natural greenhouse effect less than 2%. This would produce warming of the order of 1 degree Celsius in the absence of negative feedbacks which are the norm in sustainable physical systems. xi) The IPCC does not explain how that despite the concentration of atmospheric CO2 increasing fairly rapidly following the Second World War, the period between 1940 and 1975 was associated with a reduction in global surface temperatures. xii) Or why in the nine years since 1998, global temperatures have been relatively stable despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. xiii) IPCC states that snow cover and ice extent have decreased. [But] it is generally accepted that the main Antarctic ice cap is, in fact, both cooling and increasing its ice mass. xiv) Sea levels all over the globe have been rising for centuries; this is not due to anthropogenic global warming, but merely a recovery from the last ice age. A recent analysis has found that no statistically significant ocean warming has occurred over the late 20th century. xv) It is a pity that the report uses the Stern Review as a basis for the scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming. Not only has this report been thoroughly debunked in a scientific and economic sense, but Stern acknowledges that he had zero understanding of the issue less than one year before the Stern Review. xvi) Also it is worth noting that the Stern Review was commissioned because UK Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown did not like the findings of the House of Lords Report into climate change. xvii) It is a matter of public record that some scientists have withdrawn from the IPCC process because of dissatisfaction with its probity and methods. xviii) Most of the public statements that promote the dangerous human warming scare are made from a position of ignorance—by political leaders, press commentators and celebrities who share the characteristics of lack of scientific training and lack of an ability to differentiate between sound science and computer-based scaremongering.
ii) The critical area of the fallibility and shortcomings of computer modelling is not mentioned anywhere.
iii) There is no detectable warming in the lower troposphere, the place where the enhanced greenhouse effect is claimed to be evident.
iv) The observed surface warming that is highlighted by the IPCC must therefore have a different cause, which is probably the biasing of the records by urban heat effects.
v) The full IPCC report ...represents a consensus of government representatives rather than of scientists.
vi) There are also other scientific factors that contribute to climate that are not even considered by the IPCC, such as the role of cosmic ray activity in cloud formation.
vii) Warming has also been observed on Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Pluto, Neptune and others. It is the natural property of planets with fluid envelopes to have variability in climate. Thus, at any given time, we may expect about half the planets to be warming. This has nothing to do with human activities.
viii) Science is a discipline which relies on testing hypotheses and exposing flaws, not on consensus, in order to further scientific understanding. Scientific fact is not a democracy. The laws of physics are not subject to the democratic vote of a group of scientists; they cannot be repealed by a popular vote.
ix) The report on geosequestration also gives a false impression of the importance of carbon dioxide on the greenhouse effect. All of the gases mentioned in section 2.5 are minor contributors to greenhouse. Between 75%-95% of the greenhouse effect is the result of water vapour and cloud. The understanding of the influence of the latter is low, by the IPCC’s own admission.
x) Doubling CO2 will only increase the natural greenhouse effect less than 2%. This would produce warming of the order of 1 degree Celsius in the absence of negative feedbacks which are the norm in sustainable physical systems.
xi) The IPCC does not explain how that despite the concentration of atmospheric CO2 increasing fairly rapidly following the Second World War, the period between 1940 and 1975 was associated with a reduction in global surface temperatures.
xii) Or why in the nine years since 1998, global temperatures have been relatively stable despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.
xiii) IPCC states that snow cover and ice extent have decreased. [But] it is generally accepted that the main Antarctic ice cap is, in fact, both cooling and increasing its ice mass.
xiv) Sea levels all over the globe have been rising for centuries; this is not due to anthropogenic global warming, but merely a recovery from the last ice age. A recent analysis has found that no statistically significant ocean warming has occurred over the late 20th century.
xv) It is a pity that the report uses the Stern Review as a basis for the scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming. Not only has this report been thoroughly debunked in a scientific and economic sense, but Stern acknowledges that he had zero understanding of the issue less than one year before the Stern Review.
xvi) Also it is worth noting that the Stern Review was commissioned because UK Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown did not like the findings of the House of Lords Report into climate change.
xvii) It is a matter of public record that some scientists have withdrawn from the IPCC process because of dissatisfaction with its probity and methods.
xviii) Most of the public statements that promote the dangerous human warming scare are made from a position of ignorance—by political leaders, press commentators and celebrities who share the characteristics of lack of scientific training and lack of an ability to differentiate between sound science and computer-based scaremongering.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:04 AM
Monday, August 20, 2007
(1) Christian fundamentalists who support Israel are religious fanatics; Jewish fundamentalists who oppose Zionism are individuals of deep religious and moral conviction.
(2) Comparing Israelis to Nazis is a poignant political statement; comparing Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler is a gross distortion of history with the intent of demonizing foreign leaders and justifying imperialist military campaigns.
(3) Palestinian nationalism reflects the inherent right of all people to self-determination; Jewish nationalism is an archaic form of tribalism and racial supremacy.
(4) Criticizing academics that legitimize hateful stereotypes of African-Americans and Arab-Americans is a proper response from minority groups who oppose racism; criticizing academics that legitimize hateful stereotypes of Jewish-Americans is an attempt to stifle free speech.
(5) Iran has the right under international law to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes; any other country that pursues nuclear power is endangering the environment and increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation.
(6) Jews who cite the lessons of the Holocaust as a rationale for opposing Israel are moralists; Jews who cite the lessons of the Holocaust as a rationale for opposing authoritarian regimes in places like Yugoslavia and Iraq are neocon warmongers.
(7) Israeli policies are said to be tantamount to “genocide”; accusations of genocide in Darfur are a Zionist plot to divide the Muslim community.
(8) The war on terrorism is driven by Islamophobia; the “new anti-semitism” is a myth created to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel.
(9) Efforts to oppose anti-semitism on college campuses undermine academic freedom; academic boycotts against Israel infringe upon academic freedom but serve a greater good.
(10) Burning flags with Muslim symbols is desecration, burning the Israeli flag and the Star of David is political protest.
via The Judeosphere
Posted by pommygranate at 9:01 AM
Saturday, August 18, 2007
i) A 58 year-old American is suing IBM for $5 million in a wrongful dismissal case after he was fired for visiting adult internet chat rooms while at work. James Pacenza says he was addicted to online chat rooms and that IBM should have offered him sympathy and treatment instead of firing him. He says that his psychological problems as a result of the Vietnam War have left him addicted to sex, especially adult internet chat rooms.
ii) A man who put his genitals in a mousetrap is suing Jackass star, Johnnie Knoxville for $12 million. The stunt went wrong and Caravello "was severely injured when the trap literally went on his manhood".
iii) UK heath and safety officials are terrified about dodgy ladders. They are demanding a 'ladder amnesty".
iv) Barney Baloney, the clown, was prevented from blowing up balloons by a supermarket’s health and safety rules following one child once having a reaction to the latex in balloons.
v) "Doctors and health workers in Scotland have been banned from eating lunch at their desks during Ramadan in case it offends their Muslim colleagues.
vi) The MoD has banned pin-ups on RAF jets in case they offend women and Muslims.
God Bless them all.
Posted by pommygranate at 4:34 PM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
So the 'A' level pass rate has moved up again!!! This time from 96.6% to 96.9%. As one radio DJ asked this morning, is there anyone out there who didn't get 3 'A' grades?
However, let's not moan about this increasingly irrelevant exam. Let's instead be positive.
Jamie Whyte, writing in the Times this morning, has an elegant solution to halt grade inflation. It's simple and ingenuous.
'With independent examiners, why should A-level grades inflate?' asks Whyte.
'The answer can be seen by analogy with the consumer credit business. A levels are to universities and students what credit scores are to banks and borrowers. Universities admit students on the basis of A levels and banks make loans on the basis of credit scores. Universities (banks) want A levels (credit scores) to provide accurate information about academic ability (credit worthiness) because admitting weak students (lending to risky customers) and rejecting clever students (declining safe borrowers) are bad for business. But only the best students (safest borrowers) want grades to be accurate. Most benefit by grades being skewed upwards.
'Businesses tend to do what benefits their customers, since otherwise they will lose out to competitors. The credit ratings provided by companies such as Experian are purchased by banks, not borrowers. So we should expect them to be accurate rather than favourable. A-grades are provided by examination boards who charge students for their service and compete for business from schools. So we should expect A levels to be favourable rather than accurate.
'The incentives for grade inflation are worse yet. Imagine that the Government involved itself in consumer credit as it does in education. Imagine that there were a department dedicated to improving the creditworthiness of the population, and that it had a stated target for increasing the number of people granted loans. And imagine, finally, that the Government also regulated credit agencies and the way they assessed credit quality. It would be amazing if credit scores did not inflate like A levels.'
So, on to Whyte's elegant solution
'Examination boards should be legally obliged to sell their products to universities, not students or schools. In all other respects, the provision of grades should be deregulated. Grade inflation would stop immediately. No company trying to sell its grades to Cambridge University would lump half its students into its top grade, as occurs with the further maths A level.'
Give that man a job. Err, how about Schools Minister.
Posted by pommygranate at 7:35 PM
1. Fire all charity and aid workers. Cancel Third World Aid.
2. Remove all car bumper stickers such as 'Make Poverty History' and 'Fairtrade not Free Trade' and 'Dump The Debt'.
3. Ensure your government implements these four vital steps.
i) Maximise freedom for their citizens.
'The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labor, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself.'
ii) Ensure the rule of law and order.
iii) Ensure checks and balances are in place to minimise corruption and cronysim.
iv) Refrain from doing anything else.
Norwegian economist Tor Dahl passionately made these arguments in his keynote presentation at the World Future Society's annual meeting. Dahl is the chairman emeritus of the World Confederation of Productivity Science. He asked,
'Why are South Asians more productive outside of India and China? Why do Russians have the highest per capita income of any ethnic group in the U.S., but very low per capita income in Russia? Why are Mexicans five times more productive in the U.S. than in Mexico?'
The answer is that productivity flourishes when people are free, safe, and justly treated. Dahl calls this the framework for prosperity. So what's the evidence?
Dahl showed the correlation between the Index of Economic Freedom and each country's GDP. This Index encompasses trade freedom, investment freedom, freedom from corruption, and the protection of property rights. The top 10 countries' scores cluster around 80 on a 100 point scale. The U.S. is No. 4, after Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. The poorest countries are also the least free, e.g., Zimbabwe, Burma, Libya, Turkmenistan, and Chad. They generally scored in the 40s. Around 55% of prosperity (R2 = .55) can be attributed to the prevalence of economic freedom.
Ensure the rule of law and order
Dahl then looked at lost years of life per 100,000 population due to hunger, disease and conflict in each country. He got an amazing R2 of .51, which he said means that about 51% of prosperity can be attributed to people living in safety. The safest countries included Iceland, Japan, Israel, Singapore, and Australia. The U.S. was number 31 on the list.
Using a freedom from corruption index, Dahl got an R2 of .83, which he interpreted as meaning that approximately 83% of the variation in prosperity across countries can be explained by good governance. The least corrupt countries included Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and United States. Among the most corrupt were Nigeria, Madagascar, Indonesia, and Moldova.
The least corrupt countries included Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and United States. Among the most corrupt were Nigeria, Madagascar, Indonesia, and Moldova.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:14 AM
Herald Sun columnist, Andrew Bolt states
'When fools tell you drugs must be legalised because taking them is a “victimless crime”, tell then how Cody died.'
If you have children, then don't even read this story. It is too horrific and too tragic for words.
But blaming drugs is not the answer.
If you really do take this view, then by definition you must also be in favour of banning alcohol because this particular drug causes far more incidences of violence and abuse than any other.
Posted by pommygranate at 1:16 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
i) Apparently walking produces more CO2 than driving. So if you are genuinely concerned with saving the planet, sit on your arse all day.
ii) A layman's guide to what is wrong with the IPCC.
iii) You have to admire China's President Hu Jintao's honesty, "The first and overriding priorities of developing countries are sustainable development and poverty eradication,"
iv) More ways to save a teaspoon of CO2 via Google.
v) Global Warming has stopped since 1998.
vi) Britain's Met Office predicts that 'global warming will set in with a vengeance after 2009, with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998, which was the warmest year on record.'
In April, they published this prediction on the forthcoming English summer, 'the forecast for rainfall is less certain, and currently there are no indications of an increased risk of a particularly dry or particularly wet summer.' It has turned out to be the wettest sumer since 1776.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:50 AM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
According to Muriel Bamblett, Chairwoman of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, the government's radical proposals to tackle alcohol abuse and child abuse in remote Aboriginal communities are
'a government seeking re-election by blowing the dog whistle of racism in the guise of caring for indigenous children... The assessment of the main parties that the Australian public are too racist and too uncaring of indigenous children to actually support governments doing something principled and evidence-based to tackle both the causes and the symptoms of disadvantage that lead to child abuse.'
So Muriel, what has your agency done to prevent this? What is your plan?
Apart from banding around the word racist at all times, that is.
People like Muriel have done incalculable damage to Aboriginal children because they have ensured that the fear of being labeled racist is greater than the desire to prevent child abuse. Yes - it really is as simple as that.
Another Age journalist, Tracee Hutchison, sums up the condescending attitude of the white middle-class Left to Aboriginals by blaming Mandawuy Yunupingu's descent into alcoholism on the government. Is he unaccountable for his own actions, Tracee? Is that because he is Aboriginal? Are Aboriginals therefore inferior to us? Are they incapable of possessing free will, unable to make adult decisions?
I expect more from my children than you do from Aboriginal men. You disgust me. Both of you.
via Andrew Bolt
Posted by pommygranate at 10:44 AM
Monday, August 13, 2007
This week nervous 18 year-olds throughout Britain will receive their 'A' level results and confirmation of which university they will attend for the next three years. Last year the pass mark reached an unprecedented 96%. Will it reach 100% this year or even surpass that figure?
The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Exam is brutal. It involves three years of after-hours study and three tough exams. Of the 26, 467 candidates globally who sat the Level I paper in August 2006, a measly 40% passed. However, if you do make it through these three years, it will immensely improve your job prospects and earnings power. It is an exam worth having.
Contrast this with the 'A' level, the exam taken by 18 year-olds in the UK, where the overall pass rate is now an astonishing 96%. Oh, and 'A' levels are free, whereas the CFA costs a lot of money to complete. Which would you rather have?
John Maynard Keynes had the answer.
"There is no subtler, or surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debase the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which only one man in a million is able to diagnose."
This phenomenal performance from the country's 18 year-olds comes in the face of plummeting standards at primary school (up to 11 years) as new studies have shown that 4 in 10 primary school children can't read.
A very interesting report in the Sunday Times of a study done for the Office of National Statistics by Durham University states that inflation in 'A' levels is now two grades over an 18 year period. For example a 'C' grade in 1998 is equivalent to an 'A' grade today. In Maths, grade inflation is a whopping 3.5 grades. Last year the overall proportion of 'A's rose to 24.1% of all exams taken, double the figure in 1990.
Would someone please tell Schools Secretary, Ed Balls.
“With sustained improvements in the quality of teaching and increased investment in schools, we should expect exam results to get better.”
and Dr Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority who says:
"Surely the standards debate is tired and stale now? It's only the rightwing fringes that want to return to norm-referencing [which limits the number of passes] and fail 95% of kids so the rest can be seen as achieving. Standards have risen, and there is no doubt about that."
For further comment see Wat Tyler and Tim Worstall.
Posted by pommygranate at 11:34 AM
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Which US Presidential candidate are your views most aligned to? Take this test to find out.
Giuliani (R) 15
Obama (D) 12
Biden (D) 10
Kucinich (D) 9
Gravel (D) 7
Dodd (D) 5
Paul (R) 5
Clinton (D) 3
McCain (R) 3
Edwards (D) 3
Cox (R) 3
Romney (R) -3
Waiting on Michael Bloomberg, Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich.
via Not PC
Posted by pommygranate at 4:46 PM
Friday, August 10, 2007
A while back i looked at why Jews are so successful, which prompted a very interesting discussion. The corollary of this debate is currently taking place over at Catallaxy about why Islam has failed to make any contribution to modern science.
The statistics as outlined by Pakistani physicist, Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, (picture) in a fascinating article are truly shocking. Pervez Hoodbhoy begins by posing the question,
'With well over a billion Muslims and extensive material resources, why is the Islamic world disengaged from science and the process of creating new knowledge?'
- no major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven centuries.
- 46 Muslim countries contributed just 1.17% of the world's science literature, compared with 0.89% by Israel alone
- Pakistan has produced only 8 patents in the past 43 years (Thomas Edison produced 1,000 alone)
- no Islamic university made the Top 500 "Academic Ranking of World Universities"
- there have been just 8 Muslim Nobel Prize winners, compared to 151 Jews (despite a population differential of 110x)
- in the 1000 years since the reign of the caliph Maa'moun, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year
Why is this so? Hoodbhoy offers some suggestions.
i) 'obedience and rote learning are stressed, and the authority of the teacher is rarely challenged. Debate, analysis, and class discussions are infrequent.'
ii) 'academic and cultural freedoms on campuses are highly restricted in most Muslim countries.'
iii) 'In Pakistani universities, the veil is now ubiquitous, and the last few unveiled women students are under intense pressure to cover up. The imposition of the veil makes a difference. My colleagues and I share a common observation that over time most students—particularly veiled females—have largely lapsed into becoming silent note-takers, are increasingly timid, and are less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions.'
iv) the inadequacy of traditional Islamic languages—Arabic, Persian, Urdu—is an important contributory reason. About 80% of the world's scientific literature appears first in English, and few traditional languages in the developing world have adequately adapted to new linguistic demands.
Hoodbhoy concludes that for Muslim nations to change this appalling state of affairs, they must
'Shrug off the dead hand of tradition, reject fatalism and absolute belief in authority, accept the legitimacy of temporal laws, value intellectual rigor and scientific honesty, and respect cultural and personal freedoms... elbow out rigid orthodoxy and bring in modern thought, arts, philosophy, democracy, and pluralism.'
initial discussion began at Steve Sailor's blog.
Posted by pommygranate at 1:31 PM
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Terje Peterson commenting on eight ways governments justify intervention:-
1. If prices are low call it predatory pricing.
2. If prices are stable and consistent call it collusion.
3. If prices are lower in some places than others call it a lack of proper competition.
4. If prices are cyclical (e.g. petrol) call it evidence of price co-ordination. And make accusations of greed since the price co-ordinators are so mean as to put prices up at precisely the moment when demand is strongest.
5. If alternate suppliers are plentiful refer to the excessive consumer choice as confusing and inefficient.
6. If alternate suppliers are few then call it market failure.
7. If profits are high call it exploitation.
8. If businesses are failing call it wasteful and complain about job loses.
Posted by pommygranate at 10:52 AM
Meet Abigail Howarth.
This 18 year-old science student has been banned from applying for a training programme with the Environment Agency because she is white and English. The recruitment agency handling the scheme told Abigail Howarth, 18, that there was no point in her submitting an application because of her ethnic background. But bizarrely she could have applied if she had been white and Welsh, Scottish or Irish.
Abigail applied to a job from an advert in her local paper, which made no mention of the ban on white English applicants, merely noting that candidates from ethnic minorities, such as "Asian, Indian' and "White Other, e.g. Irish, Welsh, Scottish', were encouraged to put themselves forward. Three days later, the recruitment officer, Bola Odusi, replied:
She had this to say,
"I would not have minded had I been beaten for the position by somebody better able than me."
The Environment Agency says 387 of its 12,000 workers claim BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) status. A spokesman added: "The Commission for Racial Equality has confirmed we are acting legally."
Positive discrimination is wrong. It undermines the self-esteem of those minorities who have jobs at the Environment Agency and it fosters resentment amongst non-minorities. It also leads to a drop in productivity as the best workers are barred from a job.
How did this become legal?
This opportunity to feature a lovely English girl via Wat Tyler. Tim Worstall adds his own thoughts on Abigail.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
How is the Koran in the toilet?
Different to The Chocolate Jesus?
Or The Piss Christ?
Christopher Hitchens on superlative form explains,
"Nothing repels me more than the burning or desecration of books but when I check in to my hotel room and send my free and unsolicited copy of the Gideon Bible spinning out of the hotel window, I infringe no law except perhaps the one concerning litter."
As Christopher Hitchens points out, free speech and the First Amendment includes the right to offend and the right to mock -- and the nonsensical notions of Islamists deserve mocking more than most.
Other comment from Not PC, Pub Philosopher and Jack Lacton
Posted by pommygranate at 9:35 PM
Did you know that, according to Blogads, the median political blog reader is white, male , 43 years old and earns $80,000.
At the recent Daily Kos convention, nearly all the 'progressives' who showed up were exactly this stereotype.
Why? why? why?
For the record; i am browner (spend all day on Manly beach), younger and richer.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:58 AM
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Going to see the new Simpsons movie at the weekend.
Now i really can't wait,
'The anti-environmental thread runs throughout the movie. Lisa's presentation at a town meeting on the pollution in Lake Springfield is called "An Irritating Truth". Lisa and her new boyfriend are presented as self-righteous nags for badgering the town about pollution and environmental efficiency... The movie shows environmentalists as aggressive busybodies, starting on a slippery slope to mass murder in the name of the environment.'
Posted by pommygranate at 8:30 PM
"Mum, if everyone is special, that means no-one is special"
I have a confession to make.
I love Pop Idol. And Australian Idol is even better than its British namesake. I love Australian Idol for two reasons;
i) being a bit of a singer-songwriter myself in my youth (i emphasise the 'bit'), i appreciate the many genuinely talented young artists they feature on the program.
ii) it is by far and away the most politically incorrect program on TV
"You’ve got looks that would turn heads but you have a voice that would turn stomachs", one particularly talentless blonde was informed.
Not-so photogenic Kalgoorlie teenager Jennifer Farrenkothen was told "You remind me of Pink’s older sister: Stink".
For many young people, this show is obviously the first time in their short lives that they have been told they are not wonderful or gifted or a star. They are informed, brutally, that they are ordinary and will never make it. I am all for building up our children's confidence but wildly inflating a child's opinion of himself will not do him any favours in the long run. The return to earth is crushing if postponed for too long.
The judges are an odd bunch but i assume they all know something about what it takes to become a pop star. One girl with a beautiful voice was told she 'needs to shed the pounds'. This was the best advice anyone could give her because she has the talent to make it. It is refreshing to hear such frank and constructive advice as opposed to the usual lying crap of 'we're all beautiful'.
My one criticism - cut the bullying of the truly talentless. Politely usher them off the program and move on to the next contestant. You don't need to humiliate the genuinely awful.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:20 AM
Monday, August 06, 2007
'Criticism of a religion is inversely proportional to the probability of its proponents killing you multiplied by their density.'
They are the writers of a new 50 minute musical, Cash in Christ, premiering this weekend at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.
Badham wrote the play, which satirises the 'modern capitalist mega-church', to reflect her fears of the rise of that global killer- far right Christian fundamentalism.
"I find the Christian right groups that are enormously powerful in our own culture a larger numerical threat than extreme Islam. Bush is from the religious right and he has the bomb; that terrifies me far more than the potential of other extremists to get their hands on nuclear weapons."
Badham is concerned that despite the many world-wide conflicts involving Lutherans, the increasing prevalence of Methodist suicide bombing to achieve martyrdrom, and the killing of innocent civilians by extremist Presbyterians, they have become immune from criticism.
"In the religious right it is the self-appointed moral majority that sets its own rules, and anybody opposing them is labelled unpatriotic and shouted down."
Badham was angered by the issue of a fatwa on the artist who designed the Chocolate Christ, death threats against Richard Dawkins following publication of 'The God Delusion' and the 24 hour guard necessary to protect artist Andres Serrano after the Piss Christ was exhibited.
"It terrifies me that a few religious groups were able to cause a furore around Jerry Springer – The Opera in Britain." shaked Badham.
She is particularly concerned that Islam has been tarred with the same fundamentalist brush and is keen to redress the balance,
"I've been very sensitive to extremists in other religions, particularly Islam, being demonised."
When conducting research for the show, she chillingly described the Christians she met as 'kind' but she was wise to their trickery and said she 'felt their attitudes might foster religious intolerance.'
Posted by pommygranate at 10:52 PM
'This company is committed to celebrating diversity.'
A line you will see on every single major corporation's mission statement. What you won't see is any persuasive arguments as to why. Studies showing diversity's compelling effects on the bottom line are not distributed far and wide. So why are the benefits of diversity trumpeted by both corporations and Western governments the world over?
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has recently released a research paper based on five years of study showing that
'immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities'
Putnam's research revealed that,
'immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer.'
How does this tie in with the findings of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) which concluded that economies with high levels of trust grow at a faster rate than those where there is lots of mutual suspicion.
I am a strong advocate of economic migration, believing it to have strongly beneficial effects on the host nation and the individuals concerned. But this study gives pause for thought about whether numbers should be limited in the interests of 'social cohesion'.
via Pub Philosopher
Posted by pommygranate at 10:02 AM
I have been daily blogging now for six months. It's a tiring job but immensely rewarding, especially the steady build-up of visitors and the increased activity in the comments.
July saw my best stats to date. 15,000 page views and nearly 10,000 unique visitors. Also, i signed my first paid Blog Ad (see top left and take a look at the essay competition).
But i'm not sure where to go from here.
I feel this blog needs more specialisation, for instance should i focus solely on Australian issues or exclusively on matters concerning the erosion of personal liberty? Should i team up with one or more other similar-minded bloggers? I would welcome any suggestions.
Anyway a huge thank-you to all those of you who read and comment here.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:41 AM
Sunday, August 05, 2007
We all know that girls are a product of time and money. Hence,
Equation 1; Girls = Time x Money
We are also repeatedly told that 'Time is Money'. Hence, substituting 'time' for 'money' in the above equation produces,
Equation 2; Girls = Money x Money
Now bear in mind that 'money is the root of all evil', or
Equation 3; Money = square root (Evil).
Square both sides, and you have
Equation 4; Money x Money = Evil.
Seeing as though we have already deduced in equation 2 that 'Girls = Money x Money',
Girls = Evil
via Not PC
Posted by pommygranate at 8:28 PM
Friday, August 03, 2007
Governments just cannot resist interfering. Meg Munn, a junior Minister in the Brown govt, has said that,
'Muslim or Christian guest house owners who refuse to accept homosexual couples must impose a sleeping together ban on all other guests.'
According to Munn, if gays are turned away, the only way a Christian or Muslim guest house owner can lawfully stay in business is if he or she offers single bedrooms to all guests.This is ridiculous for several reasons.
i) It is a gross infringement on private property rights. Your home, you make the rules (provided no-one gets hurt).
ii) If certain religious groups really believe homosexuality is a sin, then that is their (odd and bigoted) lookout. Provided they are not calling for violence against gays, it really is their call as to whether to accept them into their home or not.
iii) It is yet another example of the nannying tendency of govt.
Let the market put the bigots out of business. If a company prefers to hire inferior heterosexuals or a hotelier to ban gays, they will soon go out of business. That is the way the market works. By imposing orders on hoteliers, the govt will only make martyrs out of them.
Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney and a leading Church of England liberal, shows his total lack of understanding of liberty,
"It is nonsense for the Government to allow any loopholes for religious homophobia. Bigotry is bigotry whether it's dressed up in the language of faith or not."
Giles, it is not up to governments to 'allow' bigotry. That is the path to totalitarianism you utter moron.
Posted by pommygranate at 8:58 AM
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Jason was born in Malaysia but moved to Australia with his parents aged fifteen. He attended the University of Sydney where he studied Economics and Law. He is now with an economic consultancy where among other things he works on regulatory and antitrust economics related issues. His favourite super-hero is, apparently, Batman.
He runs the free market blog, Catallaxy, and his latest article on the benefits of privatisation can be found in the CIS (subscription only).
i) Why Do You Blog?
Blogging combines a number of things that I would have been likely to do in other ways anyway. When I see an article that interests me or gets me thinking or annoys me or any other possible range of reactions above a certain threshold I'm likely forward it on to friends anyway or take note of it mentally or even bookmark it for more careful reading later. Instead I can now blog about it. But aside from chronicling my reactions to a particular piece, sometimes I just like thinking aloud and testing my thoughts among a bunch of people and I also like to hear what other people are thinking about a particular issue. Blogging (with comments) is a nice medium for this.
ii) What is your best and worst blogging experience?
The best blogging experiences I've had is when I've written one of my longer thinkpieces (which I don't have time to do on a regular basis) which I'm intellectually satisfied with and I get comments from readers telling me they got a lot out of them. The worst blogging experiences have been where I've gotten legally threatening emails not for anything I wrote but what others (like commenters) have written on my blog.
iii) What do you most dislike about your blog?
I don't think there's anything I strongly dislike about it. Sometimes the comments threads get a bit unruly and I have to cull things pre-emptively (as a precaution against legal risks as per above) and that can be a bit annoying but that's about it.
iv) Who are your favourite Oz bloggers?
Well I'm excluding my own crew in the interests of avoiding blog self-promotion ...
Andrew Norton, John Humphreys when he's blogging at ALS, yourself (Pommygranate) and Don Arthur when he blogs at Club Troppo (which isn't often nowadays). I would also say Steve Edney at Criticality except he seems to have gone into retirement.
v) Who are your favourite international bloggers?
The Marginal Revolution crew, Greg Mankiw, Steve Sailer, FuturePundit, Art DeVany
vi) What are you reading now?
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
vii) What is your favourite book?
It's difficult to nominate just one. But based on the number of times I've read and re-read it would have to be 'The Constitution of Liberty' by Friedrich Hayek. A close contender would be 'The Fabric of Reality' by David Deutsch though that covers just about everything else not covered by Hayek!
viii) What was the last good film you watched?
ix) Which film character do you most relate to?
Nothing readily springs to mind.
x) What major political issue have you changed your mind on?
I used to think inheritance taxes could be a good idea and that we could combine substantial income tax cuts and flattening of income tax with an inheritance tax but now I wonder why bother? Just aim higher in cutting both taxes and spending.
xi) Who are your political heroes?
Assuming that they have to be people who have had some involvement in politics either as politicians or government advisors or in political activism I'd say John Stuart Mill and Milton Friedman,
xii) If you could effect one major policy change in Australia, what would it be?
Sort out our mess of a federal system so that with the exception of some national public goods (like interstate highways) the States are basically responsible for raising their own revenues for whatever spending programmes they want to pursue and they can do this through an income tax (create a greater degree of jurisdictional competition and tax competition in particular).
xiii) If you could have any three dinner guests, who would they be?
Friedrich Hayek, Miles Davis and David Deutsch.
xiv) Do you have any prejudices?
None that I'm aware of.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:43 AM
A headteacher of “impeccable character” faces an unlimited fine and further civil action after being convicted over the death of a three-year-old pupil who fell from playground steps while pretending to be Batman.
Kian Williams wandered into the out-of-bounds area of the school in Bangor, Gwynedd, and jumped down the steps, tripping on the last one and landing on his head. He suffered swelling of the brain and died in hospital from pneumonia five weeks later. James Porter, 66, the owner and head of the private school where it happened, was charged with breaching health and safety regulations by failing to ensure the children’s safety.
A jury convicted him after five and a half hours of deliberation on a majority of 11-1.
His real crime?
Being unaware of the latest Health & Safety guidelines and speaking the truth.
Porter, who has run the school with his wife, Sylvia, 61, for over 30 years with an exemplary safety record, had said children should not be “wrapped in cotton wool”.
"They need to learn how to move in any given situation in a way that will protect them from injury.Children are designed to protect themselves, so if they stumble they will protect themselves. If they don’t have that facility, if we simply wrap them in cotton wool, they will never learn that lesson.”Catherine Leech, the Williams’ solicitor, had this chilling message,
“We hope other schools learn this lesson from this."
Err, what lessons are these, Catherine? That playtime is too dangerous? That ignoring stupid bureaucratic regulations are punishable by career death? This is a tragedy, but it is also a tragic accident.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:37 AM
Australia now has a political party that represents the wishes of those who seek a free economy, less government interference (nannying) in their lives and personal freedom.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is to advertise its intention to register the LDP today. Barring any valid objections, the party will be federally registered in early September.
However, the LDP is no longer the Liberal Democratic Party. It is now the Liberty and Democracy Party. This change became necessary because the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) would not register the party under its old name.
Under S129(1)(da) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 the AEC is not permitted to register a party if its name:
The AEC said that it believed “a reasonable person might think that Liberal Democrats have some affiliation with the Liberal Party of Australia.”You can find more information about the party here.
Posted by pommygranate at 9:24 AM