“Nothing matters very much and most things don’t matter at all”

It’s a quote from Arthur Balfour which always comes to mind at moments when the direction of politics changes in directions I happen not to be fond of at the time. He apparently also said these, which really do need to be kept in mind.

I never forgive, but I always forget.

He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the more refined art of skipping and skimming.

And this is his version of what George Polites, my old boss at CAI, always used to say. His version was, “It will all be the same in a thousand years”. This is Balfour’s version:

“We survey the past, and see that its history is of blood and tears, of helpless blundering, of wild revolt, of stupid acquiescence, of empty aspirations. We sound the future, and learn that after a period, long compared with the individual life, but short indeed compared with the divisions of time open to our investigation, the energies of our system will decay, the glory of the sun will be dimmed, and the earth, tideless and inert, will no longer tolerate the race which has for a moment disturbed its solitude. Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish. The uneasy consciousness, which in this obscure corner has for a brief space broken the contented silence of the universe, will be at rest. Matter will know itself no longer. ‘Imperishable monuments’ and ‘immortal deeds,’ death itself, and love stronger than death, will be as though they had never been. Nor will anything that is be better or be worse for all that the labour, genius, devotion, and suffering of man have striven through countless generations to effect.”

All very nice, but the reality is that whilst we are still living, we care a very great deal about the events that surround us. No point looking forward to how I might look at things when I finally depart this life.

On the brink of an inflationary disaster

Increases in the price level (nowadays referred to as “inflation”) are embedding themselves across much of the world. And I would like to emphasise that it’s not just a money-supply thing. It is essentially caused by the growth of purchasing power relative to the growth in the amount of goods and services available for purchase. The key element is productivity growth relative to the level of spending. 

I’m not interested in dwelling on any of this, other than to point out that getting inflation back down to zero hardly fixes the problem. Here are the latest data from the ABS:

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.1% this quarter.
  • Over the twelve months to the March 2022 quarter, the CPI rose 5.1%.
  • The most significant price rises were New dwelling purchase by owner-occupiers (+5.7%) and Automotive fuel (+11.0%).

Suppose the growth rate went down to zero from 5.1%, which it won’t any time soon, if ever. Since the CPI figure is a percentage change in the index you have not recovered your lost purchasing power. 

Most extraordinarily to me, the ABS only just mentions the latest index number, which is 123.9. The publication, so far as I could see, doesn’t even mention the index level a year ago which I calculate to have been 117.9.

The point: unless the Index falls back to 117.9, a zero inflation rate still leaves you 5.1% behind.

It is people on fixed incomes who will be really punished, but everyone who has not had their incomes rise by that 5.1% will be financially worse off.

So we now have all the ingredients of a wage-price spiral. This is what Labor has promised: ‘Absolutely’: Albanese backs wage growth at rate of inflation.

“I believe the minimum wage should at least keep up with the cost of living,” Albanese told a press conference in the Melbourne seat of Chisholm on Tuesday morning.

Productivity has fallen backwards since the lockdowns and the covid restrictions. Governments everywhere – see Victoria specially – have thrown away billions of dollars on useless unproductive projects. (The US has gone absolutely insane.)

Put in place a system that adjusts wages to the movement in prices and the disaster that will follow will still be with us twenty years from now.

Trump’s star rising and he’s absolutely right about stolen election

On the editorial page of The Oz today there was an article by Adam Creighton with the following heading: Trump’s star rising but he’s dead wrong about stolen election. How incredible and how disappointing, I said to myself, that the only journalist in Australia who writes honestly about the American political system has now gone over to the dark side. And then I read the article and what was absolutely clear was that the heading had completely misrepresented the contents of the story. In fact, when I opened the story at the link, this is now how the headline reads:

Trump’s rising star should force voting reform for GOP’s sake as well as Dems

Trump was miles ahead on the evening of the election and then was behind in the morning when all the counting was supposed to have ended. Here is the documentary that has brought all of this back into focus:

Here’s how the doc is described by Adam Creighton in his article:

Trump screened and lauded a new documentary, 2000 Mules, at his Florida mansion for prominent friends and fans last Friday night. It was produced by conservative provocateur and author Dinesh D’Souza and a Texas not-for-profit, True the Vote.

Using vast troves of anonymised mobile phone location data – the kind that helped police arrest rioters on Capitol Hill on January 6 – the documentary suggests at least 2000 individuals in five key swing states visited at least 10 voter drop boxes and five left-wing activist organisations during the voting period. Some “mules” – those dropping off multiple ballots – visited drop boxes more than 50 times, it claims.

The show also presented CCTV footage of people dropping multiple ballots off at strange hours, some wearing gloves (and a T-shirt; it clearly wasn’t to keep warm) at all hours of the night.

Of course it was a stolen election. What a notion that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were preferred to Donald Trump and Mike Pence! The question is whether these people will try the same in November for the Congressional elections. My guess is that they cannot be stopped. As Adam wrote:

Yet in 2022 it’s no exaggeration to say the Democratic Party has become obsessed with maintaining pandemic voting rules beyond the pandemic, casting anyone who wants to return to pre-2020 voting rules as a racist who is intent on “suppressing the vote”. It’s reasonable to ask why the party has become so insistent on keeping rules that it barely advocated for before 2020.

I wonder if anyone can guess the reason why.

CONTINUING THE STORY: The link to the video has gone and may well have just been withdrawn since, as discussed here it is a commercially produced documentary that is being sold:

The documentary made more than $1 million in under 12 hours on video streaming platform Rumble and its subscription platform Locals beginning at noon on Saturday. The take was “good enough to put ‘2000 Mules‘ in the estimated box office top ten for the weekend of May 6th to May 8th,” according to the video platform

As of publication deadline on Wednesday, the film was earning an enthusiastic user rating of 7.4 on the 10-point scale of definitive film industry site IMDB.

“2000 Mules” is available for purchase at $29.99 on D’Souza’s Locals channel or for free with purchase of an annual $50 subscription to his channel. The controversial film had a limited theatrical release last week and is also available for purchase or rent on SalemNow.com

Old Ozzie in the comments has provided this link from Rumble in case it can still be reached:



And the trailer can be found here: 2000 Mules Trailer or perhaps here if one clicks on the link below if the vid itself does not appear:

Intelligent design-it’s not just all an accident

This was published at Instapundit:

IS THERE A POSITIVE CASE FOR INTELLIGENT DESIGN? Geologist Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute insists there is and he has a new book out that makes the case. HillFaith is pleased to begin re-publishing a series of pieces by Luskin based on the book. It is offered here for informational purposes, not as a claimed last word. 459

The “459” at the end of the post will take you to the comments which you might also find of interest.

How to lose the election

There are wholesale numbers of fringe parties who will never form a government. To lose the election these are all that is required for the major parties:

  • argue that global warming/climate change is a hoax
  • argue that covid is almost a non-existent problem

Suppose Scott Morrison thinks exactly that. He cannot say any of it since the Coalition would end up losing in a massive landslide.

There are other issues too, but those alone would do it.

My reply to a request for the title of my latest book

I received an email with the following heading: “Can you please advise me of the title of Steve Kates’ latest book?” After almost a week I wrote the following in answer to the original query.

This was passed on to me and am grateful for the request which would have been extremely simple to reply to, as follows:

Thank you for your request: this is the tile: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy and this is the link to the publisher’s website: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/classical-economic-theory-and-the-modern-economy-9781786433565.html

However, what then almost immediately came to mind was how best to get the points I am trying to make across, assuming that is actually why you were interested in the title. So what follows is the evolved reply that immediately came into my head which you will hopefully be able to read below which I will eventually be able to put up on the blog.
My latest book is Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy and this was the summary at the publisher’s website [ https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/classical-economic-theory-and-the-modern-economy-9781786433565.html ]
Economic theory reached its highest level of analytical power and depth in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains classical economics when it was at its height, followed by an analysis of what took place as a result of the ensuing Marginal and Keynesian Revolutions that have left economists less able to understand how economies operate.

The chapters explore the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, clouding to the point of near invisibility the theories they had developed. Steven Kates offers a thorough understanding of the operation of an economy within a classical framework, providing a new perspective for viewing modern economic theory from the outside. This provocative book not only explains the meaning of Say’s Law in an accessible way, but also the origins of the Keynesian revolution and Keynes’s pathway in writing The General Theory. It provides a new look at the classical theory of value at its height that was not based, as so many now wrongly believe, on the labour theory of value.

A crucial read for economic policy makers seeking to understand the operation of a market economy, this book should also be of keen interest to economists generally as well as scholars in the history of economic thought.


This is, of course, the history of economics which has a fairly heavy dose of political philosophy mixed in with the economics. It is also historic and explains how economic theory ended up in the mess it is now in. It is not really for someone who has not previously studied economic theory (which, for all I know, you may well have done) and I imagine requires quite some background in the way that economic theory became what it has become. Therefore, on the assumption that your interest is in economic theory in relation to policy, then the book I would recommend, which is not my most recent, is the third edition of my classroom text: Free Market Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader. This is the publisher’s summary:


In this thoroughly updated third edition of Free Market Economics, Steven Kates assesses economic principles based on classical economic theory. Rejecting mainstream Keynesian and neoclassical approaches even though they are thoroughly covered in the text, Kates instead looks at economics from the perspective of an entrepreneur making decisions in a world where the future is unknown, innovation is a continuous process and the future is being created before it can be understood….

The aim of this book is to redirect the attention of economists and policy makers towards the economic theories that prevailed in earlier times. Their problems were little different from ours but their way of understanding the operation of an economy and dealing with those problems was completely different.

There is then, in relation to economic theory, my Economics for Infants which is discussed at the publisher’s website [ https://www.connorcourtpublishing.com.au/Economics-for-Infants_p_65.html ]. It is not really for infants, of course, but is done in the form of a children’s book. This is the summary put up by the publisher:

A perfect book to read to your children and grandchildren!

How do you explain the complexities of the economic order to a child? In this retro-inspired illustrated book, Associate Professor Steven Kates attempts this task in a storybook form. A basic primer on economics for the youngest of readers.

The text is to the point but what makes the book so valuable are the drawings by Liam Capello who has a phenomenal gift for representing text pictorially, who is now pursuing another career direction. But I have to say, especially with the drawings accompanying the text, that it explains some very complicated things in a very simple way. 
Finally, let me just mention this, which you can just download from the CIS in Sydney at this web address: https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pp14.pdf  – This discusses the operation of the price mechinism which is dealt with in the first two books discussed above but this goes into it much more deeply. It explains precisely why no socialist system has ever worked or can ever be expected to work by showing how pricing and entrepreneurial decision-making is the key to understanding how things actually operate.
Anyway, I hope this has been of some help to you. Your request has certainly been of some help to me.
And if you have any further questions, feel free to drop me a note.
With kindest best wishes.

Keynesian economics and the Magic Pudding

The level of economic ignorance and stupidity has reached such astronomical levels that I can make the forecast that Australia is heading for many years of falling real incomes and a vast increase in the level of poverty.

You really have to stand in amazement at how little flak this morning’s front page in The Oz has received: Election 2022: Labor to turbocharge budget deficits in ‘quality spending’ focus. If Labor wins they will do nationally what Labor has done in Victoria. 

Labor is planning to unveil budget deficits up to $10bn greater than the Coalition over the next four years as Anthony Albanese sharpens his election pitch around the need for “quality” spending rather than fast-tracking debt reduction….

“What we need to be able to do is to flick the switch in the budget, not to austerity, but to quality, so we can fund the things that we care the most about,” Dr Chalmers said.

hese idiocies. Our present Government actually does know better but are barely able to explain any of it in a way that will have the general run-of-the-mill Treasury and academic economist on side. Certainly you will find almost not a single warning out there from hardly any of them.

Meanwhile we will be dismantling our power grid and ability to deliver low-cost electricity to industry. I don’t wish to single out The Age but reading its editorial today really did depress me: Fair wage growth must be at the heart of economic recovery.

more value adding output than the value of the resources used up in production. If anyone thinks the ALP is remotely capable of that sort of outcome, just vote these people in and then sit back and enjoy the rising level of poverty that will then be inevitable. Not for everyone, of course, just most of us.