Just put ’em away for a couple of months

hocky and the f word

Having been at the front of the protest movement back in the 1960s, what always amazed me was how easily we won our various confrontations with authority. I went along because it was the thing to do, got to meet girls, could exhibit my morality in a public place and did mildly care about the issues. But over time the realisation grew that it was absolutely riskless. Nothing would ever happen to me as long as I just stayed in the pack. A few of my friends got busted occasionally but they were the loud mouths who drew attention to themselves. And they would be duly carted off and then join us in the morning for a coffee and a smoke.

I actually saw this demo pictured here as they wandered down Bourke Street after their festivities were over. The answer. Put a couple away for a month or two, the really violent ones, make it clear that there actually are risks to one’s health and safety from going beyond peaceful protest, and it will stop. The major idiots will still keep it up but we minor idiots will wander off and find something else to do.

Post Number 600

I must be wasting a lot of time on this since I only finished Number 500 a few weeks ago and here I am at 600 already. And traffic is up so people are actually coming to this site which is both nice but also worrying. I still put up what I want but now I have to also think about whether I am saying whatever I say in ways that won’t come back to haunt me. But this is still mostly for me as a kind of passing diary of fleeting thoughts on what’s going on. And it is, of course, very much about the Law of Markets. And it is a way to communicate with my son. So hi there Joshi. And best to Beatrix as well. LtU.

Who will audit the auditors?

The AFR had a very small article the other day written by Tony Shepherd that I wouldn’t have paid much attention to except that he is now going to run the Commission of Audit. One can only at this stage hope that the Commission does its job and raises the alarm about how our productivity is being wasted by governments in ways that lower our living standards and reduce employment. It is my strong belief after many years at the Chamber of Commerce and watching the ways of politicians, who respond to political rewards and not to economic, that governments should never allow themselves to think that anything they propose to produce will ever make the economy stronger, raise living standards or add to the number of jobs.

There are now a series of traditional areas for governments. National defence and roads which no one else will do. Schools, public transport and hospitals which may not be done to an optimal extent so we often find the private operators supplemented by the public. And there are a few natural monopolies that may require a more than usually heavy handed form of government regulation or even involvement. But after that, the governments should not involve themselves in any form of production whatsoever.

We have a market economy, and the plain fact is that most forms of production do not take place in the kinds of places politicians want to show up at to cut the ribbon when they are finally opened for business. You know, things like steel mills, mines, concrete producers, car washes, supermarkets, paint factories, paper clip and toothpick manufacturers. You know, the tens of thousands of small and detailed forms of production that are necessary to our wellbeing that spring to life as if from nowhere because there are profits to be made and which hire most of the people in this country who have jobs.

My article comments on a number of statements in Tony Shepherd’s own article which raise real concerns in my mind. Here are those statements:

“Governments and business and community leaders are increasingly united in recognising the merits of selling publicly owned assets to unlock funding for badly needed new infrastructure.”

“Contributing to a rethinking of privatisation is the opportunity to draw on superannuation funds as an alternative source of infrastructure investment.”

“The private sector can shoulder the lion’s share but governments will continue to have a substantial funding role when it comes to non-commercial or social projects.”

“We should be seeing a virtuous circle where governments funds get good projects started and, once the asset is mature, it is then sold.”

“Governments should be encouraging more private investment in green field projects by properly dealing with the problem of early market risk. There are ways to use the government balance sheet to do this.”

If these statements don’t raise dark thoughts in your own mind you should read my article. In fact, you should read my article anyway because there is likely to be a lot more of this up for discussion by a lot more people than myself in the years ahead.

Art Laffer and Say’s Law

laffer - us govt spending fall

There is an article by Arthur Laffer at The Spectator that you can find here here. And I only mention it because I want to point out that Laffer had himself tried to resurrect Say’s Law back in the 1980s. If you look at the original supply side revolution which is coincident with the Reagan Revolution, the literature is filled with Say’s Law, and even amongst the comments at the Spectator article, there is this:

Rubbish. Say’s Law (the formal name for the views in this article) has been refuted. I hope Krugman sees this article.

Me too. I hope he does see it. And I hope he does try to buy into this. He would for a change be taking on someone his own size in the heavyweight division. The cuts to public spending are the only way into resurrecting growth. Who knows, the sequester may yet make Obama an economic hero by having the American economy turned around on his watch. Not his doing but there you are.

And if you would like to see a bit more on Arthur Laffer and Say’s Law, this is the place to look. Jude Wanniski was the third in the triumvirate in the supply side revolution, along with the Great George Gilder.

Hating the rich

Theodore Dalrymple on the most destructive emotion of them all:

Still, hatred of the rich, which people do not hesitate to express as if it were a virtue to do so, rests fundamentally on two human connected emotions, both of them unattractive: envy and resentment. It also rests on the primitive notion of an economy as being a cake of a fixed size to be sliced up according to some plan, just or unjust as the case may be. On this view, a crumb in one man’s mouth is a crumb taken from another man. Poverty is the result, therefore, of wealth: which is true enough if you define poverty as being a certain percentage of the average or median income, as is all too often done. If you define poverty as the lack of subsistence or even physical ease, it is quite otherwise.

There’s much much more at the link.

Oh My Dear Sweet Papa

How much I love this song cannot be estimated. I had known it all my life but only found out where it was from by going to a presentation of Puccini’s Il Trittico of which this is from the third and last – Gianni Schicchi – where the daughter of the house is asking her father to risk his life so that she can have a dowry to marry her beau. O mio babbino caro – Oh My Dear Sweet Papa – please get into that bed, pretend you are the deceased and get the notary to certify the will that you relate to him of the wealthy man who has just died. If you succeed, we get his money. If you are found out, they will take you out and boil you in oil. All ends happily but the song has heavy freight of both enormous risk and unspeakable fraud. But this nine year old singing it is unbelievable.

From Andrew Bolt.