Malcolm and the economy

The way to achieve growth is to encourage the private sector: lower taxes, less regulation and a cut to spending. Three stories, each highlighting how bizarre economic policy now is. First this: Budget cash to back innovation push.

Malcolm Turnbull’s sweeping innov­ation strategy will hit the budget bottom line as the package of more than 30 reforms, including new spending measures, will not be matched with savings.

The Prime Minister, who has told Industry Minister Christopher Pyne to “release his inner revolutionary” in setting the new innovation agenda, is understood to have ordered Treasury officials to prepare “second-round effects” modelling to demonstrate the long-term benefits of the reform package, despite the anticipated short-term hit to the budget.

And then on the matter of savings, we have this: Cutbacks eyed for superannuation tax breaks.

Tax breaks on superannuation could be scaled back to help fund income tax cuts for workers, under ideas Scott Morrison will air today in a bid to ignite a debate over the best way to use concessions worth billions of dollars.

The Treasurer will also raise the prospect of easing some of the rules that prevent people from building up their nest eggs, acknowledging that caps on their contributions can make it impossible to save all they need for a comfortable old age.

But Mr Morrison will use a major speech today to warn that super must not be turned into ­“estate-planning vehicles” for the wealthy to exploit the tax-free ­nature of the funds in retirement.

The suggestions widen the tax reform debate, as the government examines options that range from an increase in the GST to a “progressive” scale of super tax rates that could recoup as much as $6 billion a year in revenue.

And we should not neglect this either: Turnbull’s NBN deficiencies exposed by $800 million Optus debacle.

Leaked documents, which show that the company building the government’s national broadband network could be up for $375 million in repairs and upgrades of a key part of its multi-technology-mix (MTM) pose serious questions about the wisdom of the government in tearing up Labor’s fibre to the premise plans.

The stories are each part of Malcolm’s visionless approach to policy. He thinks government spending is good, private investment irrelevant, and national saving not central to his plans. We are dealing with a Labor government that is only being constrained by the conservatives in its ranks, the ones Malcolm is trying to rid the party of.

Everyone is perfectly aware that Albanese will lead the ALP at the next election. If Malcolm loses the unloseable, he will have to emigrate with the other millions heading to Europe.

If you are anti-Semitic or anti-Christian you get all the free speech you could possibly want

The note that goes with the Youtube clip reads:

A man screaming “go back to Israel” and “swear to Allah” had to be forcibly pinned to the ground after a scuffle outside a Melbourne synagogue yesterday.

This comes via Andrew Bolt under the heading, Tribal warfare in Melbourne. Either the man in the red shirt can legally do what he’s doing or he can’t. He can either walk up to a Jew at a synagogue and rant or he can’t. If you are part of a minority, what you see is still very uncommon but maddening and frightening when it happens. It is also hard to prevent. What you see should be illegal to the fullest extent that the law allows. There is nothing we should not be able to discuss in this country, but citizens, whether Jewish, Muslim, or anything else, must not be subjected to this kind of racist rant and our laws should make it very clear.

I might add that the man in the red shirt identified himself as an Aboriginal.

A man screaming “go back to Israel” and “swear to Allah” had to be forcibly pinned to the ground after a scuffle outside a Melbourne synagogue yesterday.

The enraged man cornered an orthodox Jew and then slapped him during an argument outside the Adass Synagogue, south of Melbourne…

Repeatedly claiming to be of Aboriginal descent, he is seen screaming at the Jewish man to “go back to Israel”.

“I am from Australia,” the Jewish man responds.

Tensions boil over when man in the red t-shirt tries to grab the other man around the neck and is tackled by a group of onlookers in religious dress.

The fact is, the man in the red shirt does not look like like an Aboriginal nor would this be characteristic of Aboriginal behaviours in the past. Whoever it is was trying to buy the protection that being part of the Aboriginal community would bestow. Disgusting and disturbing in so many different ways.

Freudian displacement and the non-war on ISIS

Maurice Newman has an article in The Oz today on Waffling West empowers Islamic terror. And there he wrote, in the kind of article that has already virtually disappeared, about how there is something else that is the Number One issue to allow you to show you are being tough-minded even while studiously ignoring ISIS.

Left leaning, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman sympathises. “When President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilisation but global warming could and might.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius agrees “climate change is a threat to peace” and a significant cause of terrorism, sentiments echoed by Prince Charles.

All this reminded me of an article some time back by Ed Driscoll on Freudian displacement. He began with this:

Tough language is borrowed from the war on terror and applied to the war on weather. “I really consider this a national security issue,” says celebrity activist and “An Inconvenient Truth” producer Laurie David. “Truth” star Al Gore calls global warming a “planetary emergency.” Bill Clinton’s first worry is climate change: “It’s the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it.”

Freud called it displacement. People fixate on the environment when they can’t deal with real threats. Combating the climate gives nonhawks a chance to look tough. They can flex their muscle for Mother Nature, take a preemptive strike at an SUV. Forget the Patriot Act, it’s Kyoto that’ll save you.

But then a quarter of an hour later, having thought about his original post, Driscoll went on with a much fuller discussion on how fighting climate change gives some people the pretence of being tough. Link to it all since it is short but subtle, and explains quite a lot. A sample:

While the hawks among us worry about preventing the Armageddon that’s coming, our modern-day hippies just want to make sure the planet is pristine when it does. In fact, the more menacing terrorism becomes, the more some people seem to worry about the weather. Scared and unsure how to fight terrorists, they confront “climate change,” which only requires spending trillions of other people’s dollars on something that may not need fixing or may not be fixable. No wonder some of these people chain themselves to trees – they think money grows on them.

It’s funny when you put it that way, but it’s actually not funny at all. That the US could twice elect Obama at such a moment – and in Australia replace Tony with Malcolm – is the surest sign that we would happily sign the surrender documents if only it wasn’t all too obvious to the other side that this is what we have in effect already done.

Following the Obama playbook

America has many problems and enemies to go with them but the only enemies Obama really cares about are Republicans. Same for Malcolm. Australia has its own list of problems but the only enemies Malcolm can get himself worked up about are our Republican-equivalents, which just happens to be members of the party he leads. You hardly need to be a genius to work out that a certain measured common sense is needed right now in the Middle East so I hardly think it’s anything other than Malcolm mimicking Barrack to have said so. But there are those who think that something needs to be done in the Middle East, and despair that America is led by someone who, for whatever reason, feels quite content to let things boil over without any involvement. Worst President ever matched possibly by the worst Prime Minister ever. Time will tell but so far Malcolm has excelled only at avoiding dealing with any of our actual problems, either national or international. If ISIS is not a problem to Malcolm, then he is unfit for the job.

This is Dennis Shanahan in a column in which he is even trying to say nice things about Malcolm. But even so, he does note this:

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s security statement to parliament on Syria and Iraq was universally viewed as a “slapdown” to the public statements of his predecessor, which only distracted from the core message to the public. . . .

The jibes about machismo were directed against Abbott and former defence minister Kevin Andrews, who publicly advocated, from the backbench, a greater military presence — SAS forces on missions — in Syria.

Turnbull’s public putdown added to a growing atmosphere of paranoia and resentment between thwarted conservative Coalition MPs and those who supported Turnbull’s seizure of the leadership ten weeks ago.

Yet the idea of considering limited “boots on the ground” is not limited to a coterie of Abbott supporters, with West Australian Liberal Luke Simpkins, one of the signatories of the leadership spill against Abbott in February, telling parliament it was something we “need to do”.

No one knows the answer in dealing with ISIS but allowing the problem to fester is not high on the list of possible solutions.

Obama the only one in step

The title is, President Obama, a ‘tortured genius’, but you need to define a genius of the tortured variety before you can see what he means. So here he does just that:

A “tortured genius” . . . is someone who, no matter how obvious the failing or how fair and valid the criticism, accepts no blame and denies all responsibility. In the mind of such a leader, the rest of the world simply can’t see the “genius” in what they do.

In truth, this type of leader lives in denial of the facts as they are, rationalizing actions and refusing to alter or adapt strategies to win. To such a person, maintaining the illusion that he is right is somehow more important than mission success. We have all known a tortured genius or, perhaps at times, have been one ourselves. Such a leader can be a serious detriment the performance of any team and the chief obstacle to victory.

Even here the problem is that unless you understand what Obama is trying to achieve, you have no idea whether he is succeeding or not. To understand what Obama is trying to do, all you need to do is read this from George Soros. No President, in my view, has ever succeeded in achieving his ends better than Obama. It’s just that his ends are not our ends, but in his own lights, there is no one more successful than him.

That’s got to be a political asset

trump family

This is a story about Donald Trump campaigning with his wife and children. The caption at the bottom of the picture reads:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, middle, speaks near his wife, Melania, left, son Baron, daughter Ivanka, second from right, and daughter Tiffany during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Having watched both the press and the polls suggest that Mrs Trudeau was a reason for Justin’s success, shows again how different North American politics is from everyone else’s. Here, however, is the bit at the end of the story that Trump must have repeated a dozen times for the journalist even to have mentioned it:

Trump denounced the media for focusing on the protesters rather than his popularity at campaign appearances.

“Seventy percent of those people back there are absolutely total scum,” Trump said Tuesday, gesturing to the press area at the back of the arena, getting a roar and applause from the crowd.

You really do have to wonder why they were applauding.

Does anyone know what’s going on?

There was a time that everyone seemed to try to cool things down. Not now. Why would Turkey do this? Russian jet hit inside Syria after incursion into Turkey: U.S. official.

The United States believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said that assessment was based on detection of the heat signature of the jet.

Meanwhile:

US BACKED ‘REBELS’ DOWN RUSSIAN HELICOPTER…
American anti-tank gun…
PUTIN RAGES: Stab in our back…
RUSSIA DEPLOYS MISSILE CRUISER OFF SYRIA COAST…
ORDERED TO DESTROY ANY TARGET POSING DANGER…

And then back in France, which could now be anywhere so far as the threats are concerned:

Homegrown French ISIS fighters issue warning to Hollande…
‘We will come to crush country’…

Under Obama we have gone from a Pax Americana to who knows what?

Mark Steyn has corrected an error I made in my article

Mark Steyn has seen need to correct my reference to his book in his own column today, Shelter in Place Until Further Notice.

Also on the plug front, in that excellent Aussie publication Quadrant, Dr Steven Kates puts in a good word for “a wonderful and hilarious book by Mark Steyn called ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’“. This passage by Dr Kates did, however, give me pause:

Bearing in mind that Steyn is being sued for defamation, there is something very unusual in that he describes Mann in print as “Mr Fraudpants” and runs articles with titles such as this on his website: “Michael E. Mann: Liar, Cheat, Falsifier and Fraud”.

It is outrageous to suggest that I have ever referred to a distinguished figure such as Michael Mann as “Mr Fraudpants”. I’m always very careful to refer to him as “Dr Fraudpants”. His Nobel Prize is false, but his PhD appears to be genuine, at least at the time of writing.

I will, of course, have to apologise to Mark the next time I have the opportunity, and to Dr Fraudpants as well. And as Mark discusses, that opportunity to apologise to him will occur as soon as February next year (see the details here). If you missed Kung Fu Fighting last time he was in Australia, your life will never now be totally complete. But you will be able to make up for it with whatever he decides to bring to us this time round, which he also discusses.

But the title of his article on “Shelter in Place” refers to neither my error nor his coming visit, but this:

The official line from Obama and Kerry is that the world is safer than it’s ever been – except for a few pockets here and there. You’ll recall that, when I spoke at the Danish Parliament seven weeks ago, the US State Department issued a travel advisory warning US citizens to steer clear of me and that particular neighborhood of Copenhagen. All very specific, and leaving plenty of other places for Americans to visit. However, the State Department has now expanded its area of concern and issued a “Worldwide Travel Alert”, advising Americans basically to steer clear of the entire planet until February 26th. Claudia Rosett says reassuringly that travel abroad is still safe for Americans if you can “teleport into rural New Zealand”. Absent that, shelter in place for the next three months.

As Obama, Biden et al crowed only three years ago, the terrorists are on the run, and they’ve apparently run everywhere. Is this all the President’s fault? Well, he is “the leader of the free world”. Which sounds like a demanding job. But happily, in terms of places it’s safe to visit, the free world seems to be getting a lot smaller.

And no doubt because of Malcolm’s own contribution to these problems, it will be getting smaller still.

Where pictures replace words

matilda reading quadrant

I have an article in this month’s Quadrant which is now posted at Quadrant on Line: Drawing the Wrong Conclusions. Three separate issues are brought together – the use of visuals in the place of words in modern academic discourse which not only helps bamboozle others but even helps bamboozle themselves; a review of Mark Steyn’s brilliant book on the hockey stick, A Disgrace to the Profession, which looks at the diagram that has featured in both IPCC Reports and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth; and a final section explaining my own disdain for Keynesian economics which was entrenched by another diagram known as the Keynesian cross, that has done much to implant aggregate demand among economists since it was published in the first edition of Paul Samuelson’s Economics in 1948.

Since a large proportion of what I read was written a century or more ago, I am very aware how few graphs and diagrams there once were. It may only have been the limitations of print technology, but to understand something once required paying attention where one needed to follow the logic. Today, a picture is provided in place of the thousand words of text. The result is that such diagrams have replaced the need to follow close reasoning in understanding the point someone else is making. With diagrams and pictures of all sorts, there is less apparent need to bother with detail and complexity. And it is no small problem as we can see with the hold that global warming and Keynesian macro continue to have, even though the evidence that either is valid remains thin on the ground.

My grand-daughter, bless her, will be part of the mid-century generation who will come after the millennials. These post-millennials will be starting at the more difficult end by going back to thought and reason, as the photo above clearly shows.

A fat man resting on a thin man’s back

Tax reform is pretty easy, if you see what you need to do. For governments, tax reform typically means finding some way to get more money to spend. But not everyone thinks so, not even every government. In the midst of everything else, Israel is in the middle of an economic boom, and part of it has been driven by cuts to taxation, but also by cuts to spending. The article begins with these words, “since I’m a big fan of the Laffer Curve, I’m always interested in real-world examples showing good results when governments reduce marginal tax rates on productive activity.” But in the body of the story, we find this image.

“Netanyahu explained that the public sector had become a fat man resting on a thin man’s back. If Israel were to be successful, it would have to reverse the roles. The private sector would need to become the fat man, something that would be possible only with tax cuts and a trimming of public spending. …Government spending was capped for three years.”

This story, on the other hand, comes from the United States with a focus on Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat Senator from Massachusetts. She’s looking to raise taxes on the largest American businesses because she thinks their rate of taxation is too low. The article is titled, Head in the Clouds from which we find:

Elizabeth Warren must believe that somehow you can disconnect reality and put it into a bubble. Like most Progressives she can’t seem to understand that corporations do not pay taxes, they act as tax collectors by adding taxes to all the other costs that they pay when selling products. Which means we all pay more. The problem is that we the people are running out of “more.” We can’t afford their avarice anymore.

And on it will continue because that is the nature of the beast.