Monthly Archives: July 2005

Hood Robin

Is it just me, or does it strike anyone else as odd that NSW Premier-to-be Morris Iemma has decided that one of his first decisions as Labor leader will be to scrap a tax that applies only to those affluent … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 8 Comments

Race for the Door

I do think it’s important to be clear about what should and shouldn’t be considered unacceptable at universities. Mac Uni’s Andrew Fraser is being shunted out not because he works on race and crime (as a casual reader of the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Cost of Drugs

Another interesting paper from the NBER meetings. In A Critique of the Estimates of the Economic Cost of Drug Abuse, Jeffrey Miron attacks the estimates produced by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy on the costs of drug … Continue reading

Posted in Food and Drink | Comments Off on The Cost of Drugs

Politics and the English Language

It’s occasionally worth remembering George Orwell’s six splendid rules for writing: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Money For Nothing

Fred Argy has a carefully argued piece on government advertising on the ANU’s Democratic Audit of Australia website (PDF). He notes: The current IR newspaper ads (responding to pre-emptive advertising by the ACTU), are said to cost $20m and are … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 2 Comments

Riding the Boston Subway

The number of warnings on the Boston subway at present is extraordinary. At least once a minute, a voice comes on the loudspeaker, urging commuters to report suspicious packages, make sure you take your belongings with you, and speak up … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Terrorism and the World Economy

I’m spending the week in Boston, at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Summer Institute meetings. Over the next couple of days, I thought I might occasionally blog on papers that have piqued my interest. In Terrorism and the World … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 4 Comments

Are We There Yet?

Bob Carr has resigned today, and will doubtless attract well-deserved plaudits for his longevity and electoral skills. And there are a few policy successes too – it’s unlikely the week-long drugs summit in May 1999 would have happened under the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 2 Comments

United We Stand?

Big news in the US union movement today. The SEIU, the largest union in the AFL-CIO (the US equivalent of the ACTU), has announced that it’s withdrawing from the federation, along with the teamsters. Mostly, this seems to be about … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 5 Comments

Trust and Diversity

One of the thorniest issues I’ve delved into as a researcher is the relationship between trust and heterogeneity. In a piece in the AFR today, I discuss some of the findings from my research (warning: PDF with regression tables). The … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 14 Comments

A Happy Sunburnt Country

Readers may recall that I mentioned a month ago a new paper by David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, entitled "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia" . Justin Wolfers and I have now written a reply paper, … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | Comments Off on A Happy Sunburnt Country

Why Don't We Call It "The Sydney Shandy"?

From the SMH: Respondents were asked whether they were "very comfortable, mildly comfortable, mildly uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with drinking recycled sewage, including toilet water, that is treated to drinking-water quality". Only 12 per cent said they were very comfortable, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Aid & Growth

I just stumbled across a piece by Helen Hughes on foreign aid, published in the AFR on July 9. As with her 2003 work on aid to the Pacific, assertion again takes the place of evidence. Dr Hughes argues that: … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues | 5 Comments

How would you spend $1,000,000,000?

What would you spend $1 billion on? Schools? Hospitals? Roads? Job training? Tax cuts? My guess is that just about anything you can name is a better use than surrogate political advertising by the federal government. I don’t mind watching … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 5 Comments

An Australian BASE jumper was killed on Tuesday, jumping off Kjerag Peak in western Norway. Today, his friends announced that they plan to honour his memory by leaping off Kjerag Peak later today.

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Amidst ongoing discussion over Richard Florida’s books, The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class (the first apparently beloved by NSW Minister Andrew Refshauge), I just stumbled across an unusual review of Florida’s first book … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Annals of Dubious Research Interpretation

When you do a one-off survey of young people, it’s impossible to distinguish an age effect from a cohort effect. It seems not everyone gets this.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

In Betting Markets, There's No Such Thing as Insider Trading

President Bush isn’t due to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court for another hour, but the markets seem pretty certain they have the answer. On Tradesports, DC Appeals Circuit judge John Roberts’ current odds are 99%. Full odds over … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Two Straw Men

We saw Hannie Rayson’s play Two Brothers last night. Since it’s already made its way through Sydney and Melbourne, and been thoroughly dissected there, this is probably only of relevance to Canberrans. My simple message: outside student theatre and performance … Continue reading

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Stupid Road Signs I Have Seen

"Speed camera and red light camera ahead" – Look down at your speedo! No, up at the lights! No, down at the speedo! ….

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

(Not) Free to Choose

A story on ABC radio this morning (can’t find it online, sorry), reported that the NSW Libs and Nats have decided that they’re firmly set against any three-cornered contests – even for open seats, apparently. What happened to that ol’ … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 16 Comments

Plus ça change

John Howard, 15 September 1985: I personally see some merit in having an ID card providing the civil liberties concerns that people have voiced can be looked after and provided the Government can satisfy the community that there is some … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 8 Comments

Latham Revisionism

I’ve been surprised to see how simplistic the journalistic discussion has been about the ALP’s choice of Latham in December 2003. The assumption has been that: Beazley would probably have gotten a similar result to 1998 and 2001 (ie a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 6 Comments

Sheehan Watch, Pt 3

After reading Paul Sheehan’s column today, readers would probably not come away knowing the fact that less than 1% of Pakistani students attend a madrassa. (Part 1, Part 2)

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Recent Reading

I’ve just finished two novels that fall into the "beautiful but not stunning" category. Alan Hollinghurt’s The Line of Beauty (several reviews here) is the story of a gay man growing up in 1980s London, which won the 2004 Booker … Continue reading

Posted in Books | 4 Comments

Who's Playing the Game?

Any Big Brother fans with a bit of time on their hands?* One of the questions that keeps being asked is "who’s playing the game?". And one way to find out who’s playing most tactically would be to look at … Continue reading

Posted in Television | 1 Comment

Designing a Fair Teacher Merit Pay Plan

One of the criticisms that’s most frequently heard of teacher merit pay is: Yes, but how do you design a fair performance pay system in teaching? My own view is that this isn’t an insurmountable issue. Indeed, plenty of merit … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Worldly Advice

1. If you value your free time, do not install Google Earth. 2. If you ignore (1), and would then like to peer over my shoulder as I work, click on the link below. Download GoogleEarth_Placemark.kmz

Posted in Global issues | 2 Comments

The Last Sociologist and Other Tales

There’s an interesting debate afoot on where sociology is going as a discipline. In part, it was kicked off by an opinion piece that Harvard’s Orlando Patterson wrote for the NYT. Entitled "The Last Sociologist", he praised his mentor David … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Australia's Best Paid Blogger

I was just having lunch with a friend, and talking about SMH columnist Alan Ramsey’s habit of quoting liberally from other people’s writings. (Last year, Michael Danby MP told parliament "Week after week, up to 85 percent – let me … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 5 Comments