This is not a distraction

From the AFR of Wednesday the 19th:

Not wanting any distractions between now and the September 14 federal election – the same day the referendum will be held – Mr Abbott some weeks ago committed the Coaltion to back the yes case, but almost every liberal opposes the referendum proposal. [My bolding]

This is not a distraction. It is the most vivid possible reminder that everything that Labor does is poison. How this could lose the Coalition votes is beyond me. A no vote is a no vote for a Labor proposal that would harm our federal structures and undermine the states. If there is to be a disparity in funding for the two sides then all bets should be off and Coalition members free to make their views known to the rest of us before it’s too late.

On wind farms we are less crazy than the rest

James Delingpole, this time on wind farms. You do try to work out which part of elite opinion is the craziest but what a contest. Anyway, we in Australia are recognised as the least crazy, at least so far as wind farms go:

So the anti-wind backlash has begun, of that there’s no doubt. In Australia, where resistance is especially strong, they’re holding a rally in the next few hours in Canberra to protest against an industry described by Alby Schultz MP as “the biggest government sponsored fraud in the history of our country”, so rife with “manipulation, intimidation, lies and cover-up” that there’s enough evidence to justify a royal commission. I wish I could be there at the barricades with my Aussie mates. Sounds like it’s going to be quite an occasion.

Don’t trust them

The number one conservative rule of governments is never trust them. They love the power and they love the status and they know what’s best and to them you are a cypher, a nuisance at best but most of the time a problem to be dealt with. What I worry about with the web most of all is that because we can discuss what is happening and are allowed to laugh at it, then it’s not so bad and we will be able to continue as we once did.

Watching all this you have to wonder whether the American presidential election was stolen. This is not about hanging chads and Supreme Court decisions. This is about actual criminal behaviours. Romney lost because his natural constituency did not come out to vote while Obama’s did. What do you suppose the effect on those who were trying to rally support against Obama was when they found themselves in the middle of an IRS inquiry? If “Tea Party”, “Patriot”, “Citizens” were the kind of trigger words in a name that would bring the full weight of the American government down on your head – and it was more than just the IRS – you can be sure it would have stopped such groups from organising, from raising money and from bringing their own voters out to vote.

Here are the swing states, each Democrat in 2012. :

  • Florida (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) – 29
  • Iowa (Democratic in 2000 and 2008, Republican in 2004) – 6
  • Nevada (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) – 6
  • Ohio (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) – 18

That’s a total of 59 electoral votes. Turn any one other state and Romney is president.

How to teach the history of economic thought

I am actually becoming hopeful that my Defending the History of Economic Thought, which will be released at the end of July, may turn out to be a very useful book. Each time I have gone over it myself, I have found it surprisingly filled with nice ideas about the value and role of the history of economic thought to economists. And it’s because I started from a different question than most others: why does the subject matter of economics need the history of economic thought to be taught to economists. Anyway, the following question was posted by Howard Baetjer Jr at the Austrian website the other day:

Dear Austrian list members,

I get to teach History of Economic Thought next term! I’m eager but ignorant and looking for guidance.

  • What textbook (if any) should I use?
  • What outside readings should I assign?
  • If you have a syllabus that has worked well for you, would you share it with me and let me copy freely, giving you credit on my syllabus for what I take from yours? (Steve Horwitz did this for me years ago for Money and Banking; it has been immensely valuable.)
  • Do you have any particular approach to recommend?

I am very much aware of Larry White’s The Clash Of Economic Ideas; I’m reading it now, loving it, and almost finished. Peter Boettke’s Living Economics is next on my reading list:

  • Would you recommend that I use one or both? If so, along with a standard textbook or not?
  • Any sage advice for me as embark on these unfamiliar seas?

I would appreciate any suggestions, comments, warnings, recommendations of any kind. I’m not good at reinventing wheels.

Gratefully in advance,


And here is my reply:

It is good to see history of economic thought still on the curriculum. My Defending the History of Economic Thought is being published next month by Edward Elgar in which I devote a chapter to discussing how I think HET ought to be taught. And the approach I discuss is not just to use a modern HET text and then look backwards from today but to use actual mainstream textbooks of the time to explore how a typical economist would have looked at the various economic issues back then. As an example, one might choose a series of contemporary textbooks such as McCulloch 1825, Mill 1848, Taylor 1913 and Samuelson 1948, each of which can now be purchased in a cheap edition, and then examine various themes such as the notion of market adjustment, their theory of monopoly, their theory of value, the business cycle, or whatever else might be of interest to compare how these were approached in different eras. Looking only at the great names and the great discoveries has an interest of its own. But if you are also interested in understanding how economists looked at the world during different periods of time, this is the approach I would adopt. The book is out next month but if you are interested in a copy of the chapter on teaching HET, just let me know.

And the funny thing is that there is probably no other subject whose history can profitably be taught in that way. The controversies are still alive and almost no issue is ever settled for all time. A very funny subject, economics.

Suppose Sarah had been President

Seems to be a bit of Sarah Palin nostalgia going round having caught up with these two articles today which I don’t think is entirely a coincidence. First there is this, The Gladiator: Sarah Palin, We Need You Back in the Arena. Not a great article but his point is clear, found in his last para:

Sarah Palin, please come back. Run for office.

And then there’s this, a bit of alternative history:

Suppose Sarah Palin had been President:

  • Palin would not have dismissed the Black Panther intimidation lawsuit that the government had already won.
  • Palin would not have seized two auto companies and give them to her cronies in and out of the UAW.
  • Palin and her supporters would not be claiming that her opponents were racists for disagreeing with her policies.
  • Palin would not have tried to block Boeing from building a factory in South Carolina as a gift to her union buddies in Washington state.
  • Palin would not have toured the world apologizing for America.
  • Palin’s Homeland Security Department would not have classified patriots as security threats.
  • Palin would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands instead of reducing it, make the US even less dependent on foreign oil.
  • Palin would not have allowed the Pigford suit to be settled that gives billions of dollars to “farmers” that never farmed.
  • Palin would not have shipped thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels so that they could be found next to the bodies of murdered Mexicans and American agents.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to harass Tea Party groups.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to illegally reveal the names of contributors to conservative groups to Liberal organizations so that contributors could be harassed.
  • Palin’s IRS would not ask groups seeking 501(c)4 status about their prayer life.
  • Palin would not have passed a national health care bill that is a 2000 page “train wreck” and that threatens to destroy America’s health care system.
  • Palin would have focused on reducing unemployment as it skyrocketed instead of wasting a trillion dollars on green boondoggles.
  • Palin would have known that in today’s regulatory state there is not such thing as a “shovel ready jobs” program.
  • Palin would not have spent a trillion dollars to prop up state and local government employees when private sector employees were losing millions of jobs.
  • Palin would not have handed out “Palin phones” to welfare recipients.
  • Palin would not have attacked Libya, without congressional approval, turning it into a rogue state.
  • Palin would not have allowed her ambassador to Libya to be slaughtered, along with three US service members, and told would-be rescuers to stand down.
  • Palin would not have blamed a demonstration that did not occur caused by a video that no one saw for the attack by terrorist in Benghazi.
  • Palin’s UN ambassador would not have gone on national TV to lie about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi because she would not have broken Libya in the first place.
  • Palin would not have been stupid enough – or naive enough – to support the Islamist take-over of the Egyptian government.
  • Palin would have given encouragement to demonstrators in Iran when they went to the streets to protest a fraudulent election.
  • Palin would not be giving the Islamist regime in Egypt billions of dollars to keep it in power.
  • Palin would not have told Putin to wait till after she was re-elected because then she would have more flexibility.
  • Palin’s appointed officials would not be lying to congress and the American people when they are not invoking the Fifth Amendment against incrimination.
  • Palin would not be sending Secret Service agent to her critics’ homes demanding to do a search, go through his medical records, his computer, his cell phone and pretty much anything else, and then threaten to come back and confiscate his guns if he “stepped over the line.”
  • Finally, Palin would have taken responsibility for the things that happened while she was President instead of telling us that she only read about it in this morning’s newspaper.

The toughest question that never got answered is, “Just what are these ‘extreme policies’ of Sarah Palin?” Her critics, be they Obama fans or be they something else, can’t field that one.

But more important than that, I see a lot of people are missing the point: Many potential presidents right about now, would not have done these things. Much of the problem is partisan, in that it is in the nature of democrats to obsess much about what’s being said when it’s all over, how loud each voice is, and who has the last word.

It’s worked well for them, so why should they stop. But the real issue is this “transparency” thing. We can’t really have any with a democrat in charge. Implicit in all of these bullets is the unstated extra, “If President Palin ever made any movement in any of these directions, the media would light her up like a fucking Christmas tree.”

But, Obama gets to do what Obama wants to do. For now…

The left control the media and therefore bias elections away from common sense and good governance. They will do it here if we let them but there is the absence of Sarah Palin to think about while we have that low grade narcissistic incompetent Obama as president instead.

It’s not gender that matters

It is repulsive to find that not only is Julia Gillard arguing that only a woman as Prime Minister can protect that rights of women but that there are actually women who find that a persuasive argument. On my side of the political divide, there have been extremely competent women who have risen to very high levels and have been supported by men and to be very particular, have been supported by me.

Let me start with Sarah Palin about whom I wrote about here. That she would make a better president than Obama is beyond question to me. That she would make a better president than just about anyone else in the US, male or female, is equally beyond question to me. She won’t be president, but the idea that I or anyone else might make our political decisions based on gender is a typical example of lying on the left.

My other example is Margaret Thatcher about whom I wrote about here. The title of the post was, “The Greatest Woman of the Twentieth Century”. That she most definitely was and on our side of the political divide who would doubt it?

Gillard is a small woman, with constricted ideas and no vision. She is filled with venom and hatreds. She is standard issue socialist which I associate with limited intelligence and a failure to grow up.