Monthly Archives: May 2005

A Bit Freakin' More

To supplement Dave’s post on Freakonomics, I might point out that Steve Levitt has now followed his Chicago colleagues Gary Becker and Richard Posner, and started his own blog (jointly with his coauthor Steve Dubner). It’s worth a squiz, though … Continue reading

Posted in Interesting stuff | 2 Comments

Tax Cut Unfairness

And now, a trio of comments on Sinclair’s piece. 1. I think Sinclair’s right to point out that Beazley’s tax cuts are also regressive, a point that few (if any) other commentators have made. I’m no fan of Labor’s approach … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Tax Cut Fairness

Sinclair Davidson has a piece on the tax cuts in today’s AFR, which he’s generously allowed me to reprint over the fold. I have some quibbles with it, but it seems more appropriate to put them in a separate post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tax Cut Fairness

Sex and the City

Over the years, I’ve noticed that a much higher fraction of my female friends complain about the lack of eligible men, than the fraction of my male friends who complain about the lack of eligible women.*  But I’ve always assumed … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 1 Comment

More Freakonomics

As regular readers of the IA blog know, Andrew is a big fan of young gun economist called Steven Levitt.  Levitt has become famous for using economists’ tools to find surprising answers for all kinds of unusual questions (like the … Continue reading

Posted in Interesting stuff | Comments Off on More Freakonomics


John Dauth, Australia’s straight-talking Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at ANU Law School tonight. He was pleasantly direct, praising the Secretariat, the Security Council and agencies like UNICEF, but arguing that the UN General Assembly and its committees – … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | Comments Off on UNabashed

Land of the Golden Angels

Macgregor and I are doing a four-day roadtrip next week, starting from Salt Lake City. We chose it because neither of us have been to Utah before. Does anyone have any "must sees" in that part of the world?

Posted in Travel | 1 Comment

Jess Beats Idiot Box

I’ve been watching Big Brother, and reading AusCulture Jess’s BB05 blog. And I can confidently say that the latter is a heck of a lot more interesting than the former. Over at Centrebet, shearer Glenn ($2.20) has now moved past … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | Comments Off on Jess Beats Idiot Box

HECS for Farmers

With the drought unabated, John Howard has again dusted off the Akubra and gone bush. There, he’s heard from Australian farmers, calling for making drought assistance more generous, or making the income and wealth tests less restrictive. I’m comfortable with … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 1 Comment

Cut class sizes hoping it will boost literacy. Repeat.

Having just written a piece in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald pointing out that lower class sizes over the past 25 years have not raised literacy and numeracy standards, I was mildly surprised to open today’s paper, and find Tony Vinson … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 2 Comments

Pro War Blogger Opposes Torture

Belatedly responding to John Quiggin’s call, I’d be happy to be counted among the ranks of pro-war bloggers opposed the use of torture. I’d regard myself as what the yanks call a "liberal hawk". So far as I’ve been able … Continue reading

Posted in Iraq | 5 Comments

But the rich pay a lot of tax, so they should get a big tax cut

Of all the pro-taxcut arguments cropping up over recent days, the one I’ve heard most frequently is "well, the rich pay more tax than the poor, so they deserve a bigger tax cut". This argument has a superficial appeal to … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 9 Comments

Analysis of the 2005 Tax Cuts

Since no-one else seemed to be doing it, I’ve analysed the 2005 tax cuts by household. Since inequality and poverty analysis is typically done at a household level, it is more informative to see how the benefits are distributed across … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 4 Comments

From Right Field

The lunar-right Citizens Electoral Council (formerly the League of Rights – now the Australian branch of the Lyndon LaRouche fanclub) just dropped their newspaper into the pigeonholes of everyone in the economics program of the ANU Research School. I’m not … Continue reading

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School productivity & teacher quality

I have a piece in today’s SMH on school productivity and teacher quality. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Australian issues | Comments Off on School productivity & teacher quality

The Shifting Middle

Can we please stop talking about the budget’s tax cuts as applying to high and middle income earners? I know it’s hard for most of the (personally affluent) commentariat to grasp, but there’s barely anything here for middle income earners. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 12 Comments

Teacher Quality

A paper on teacher quality that I wrote with Caroline Hoxby just got attacked in the New York Daily News. A propos the "papers versus blogs" debate of last week, I trust someone can tell me whether I should be … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Last night, we went to see The Big Con, a political satire written by Guy Rundle, and performed by Max Gillies and Eddie Perfect. There were a couple of gems: Gillies’ Amanda Vanstone doing a Pfeiffer-on-the-piano routine, Tony Soprano coming … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | Comments Off on Conned

One for the Money

Well, the Coalition’s ginger group for tax reform should be happy with tonight’s budget. Below is the distribution of the tax cuts (based on data in the SMH), which I’ve prepared for a post-budget talk I’m doing for schoolkids at … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 7 Comments

Betting on the Liberal Leadership

Those publicity hounds at Centrebet have opened a market on who will lead the Coalition to the next election. Howard and Costello are surprisingly close. Taking into account Centrebet’s whopping 25% profit margin, the market has Howard as a 44% … Continue reading

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In today’s SMH, Jonathan Biggins thinks the youth of today are apolitical and conservative because…. a review in Honi Soit (the Sydney Uni student newspaper) didn’t like the political jokes in his latest play. The issue containing the review isn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Chatting House Rule

I was on a "leadership and political structures" panel for the 2005 Future Summit in Melbourne on Friday morning. The person next to me was NSW Liberal Leader John Brogden, who came across as pretty impressive, even self-deprecating on occasion. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | Comments Off on The Chatting House Rule

US Welfare Reform

Greg Barns has a piece in today’s Herald-Sun (not online, sorry), which makes the traditional leftist argument against US welfare reform. These kinds of opeds – a hardy perennial in the Australian debate – make the essentially correct point that … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 7 Comments

Howard Resigns, Says He's Too Old

A friend in the UK just drew my attention to Michael Howard’s resignation. The Tory leader has stepped down on the basis that he’ll be 67 or 68 at the next election, which he regards as too old. Should make … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments

Resembling Henri

Separated at birth? On the left, former British Labour MP George Galloway, who resigned from the party over Iraq, and just beat the endorsed Labour candidate to win the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow. On the right, Aussie actor … Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs | Comments Off on Resembling Henri

A Progressive Case for School Reform

I’ve recently written a piece entitled "The Progressive Case for Reforming Australia’s Schools", for a volume called Progressive Essays, which Craig Emerson, Bob McMullan and Lindsay Tanner* are putting together. When I presented a version at a teachers’ conference in … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments


Of all the features about the Schapelle Corby case, the oddest seems to be the price disparity. According to the 2004 World Drug Report (PDF file), the price of marijuana in Indonesia is about US$1/gram retail, or US$100/kg wholesale. The … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 4 Comments


The news that NSW Labor MP Barry Collier has defected from the right to the left faction certainly shows that the man values ideals over power. With a few exceptions, joining the NSW left faction is not the fast-track to … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blogging in Perspective

A useful discussion at Catallaxy on the value of blogging versus the mainstream media has inadvertently illustrated the echo chamber effect, by which lots of bloggers think that everyone reads blogs because all their friends do. Blogging is immensely valuable, … Continue reading

Posted in Weblogs | 15 Comments


I’ve been using Google Scholar for a while now, and can highly recommend it to fellow wonks. And I’ve just set up a profile on Google Personalised, which looks equally promising.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Googleyed