Archive for August, 2015

Bread, circuses and the welfare state

August 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Bread, circuses and the welfare state are driving Europe towards terminal decline, writes Oliver Hartwich in a confronting new essay.

cover‘It would be optimistic to say Europe is at the crossroads,’ he writes. ‘That would suggest it has a choice between reform and decline… It increasingly looks as if there is no such choice and Europe’s inevitable future is one of decaying power, wealth and influence.’

At the core of Europe’s anguish is the burgeoning size of government, and the surrender to special interest groups intent on driving spending higher. Sound familiar?




Altogether now

August 25th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

There’s a “let’s-get-the-band-back-together” feel about tomorrow’s National Reform Summit in Sydney, an attempt perhaps to relive the glory days of consensual reform in the 1980s.

Bob Hawke’s trick was to unite the unions and business around the need for economic growth, I write in The Australian today.

It won’t be quite so easy tomorrow, since the idea of growth is now contested.



Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian


The marginalised majority

August 18th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

We are indebted to Sydney University’s Wom*n’s Collective for an update on the sexually orientated minorities we should not ­offend, I write in The Australian today.

It seems only yesterday that the initials LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — covered the range of predilections that might qualify for protected status. Now we are told in a special Wom*n’s Edition of campus newspaper Honi Soit that we must extend our sensitivities to LGBTQIA+.

Care should be taken to avoid hurting the feelings of anyone who identifies as queer (“all individuals who fall outside of gender and sexuality ‘norms’ ”), agender (“someone who identifies as a gender other than a binary gender”) and something beginning with I. Let’s hope the expansion of the acronym has been halted with the addition of “+”. The paradox of minority politics is that once race, cultural identity, disability and gender are added to the list, the marginalised members of society form a comfortable ­majority.

Victimhood in today’s universities is a position replete with privilege and status. “ ‘I’m offended’ is not an invitation to a debate but a demand for a confession, retraction, and apology,” Claremont Review editor Charles R. Kesler writes in a despondent editorial. “How different is the spirit of ‘I disagree’.”


The Left’s problem with coal

August 11th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Just four months ago the CFMEU took a stand against Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target, to the satisfaction, no doubt, of its many members who dig coal for a living, I write in The Australian today.

COL150811P copy

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian

At the Labor conference in July, however, the CFMEU decided to support the RET proposal which, if implemented, could tip card-carrying coalminers out of jobs. What had changed in the intervening three months?

“The introduction of battery storage,” union president Tony Maher told the ABC’s 7.30. “Cheap battery storage in homes is very attractive to consumers and they’ll vote with their feet. And you’d be a mug not to see that.”

Could this be the same Maher who wrote a thundering letter to the ACTU’s Dave Oliver in April arguing that renewable energy targets were “poorly targeted and ineffective”? Is this the champion of the poor and dispossessed who argued that “low-income earners bear a disproportionate burden of these higher electricity costs”? Well yes, apparently.




Uber undermines big government

August 4th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be the last nanny statist to come a cropper in a fight with Uber.

De Blasio wanted to cap the number of Uber vehicles by requiring the company to seek City Hall’s permission each time it upgraded its smartphone app. His capitulation last week should serve as a cautionary tale for other big-government advocates. As I write in The Australian this morning:

uber_taxi.jpg 3,457×2,306 pixelsDe Blasio used every lame argument in the progressive handbook to make the case for regulation. Uber was a corporate behemoth trying to dictate to government; it relied on a predatory business model that cheated workers of their benefits; Uber would undermine the quota system for disability-friendly vehicles; regulation protects consumers from overcharging.Uber would discourage “low-carbon and multi-modal options” (bike riding and walking in layman’s terms) and would increase dependency on fossil fuels.

De Blasio and his coercive arguments were on a hiding to nothing against a company that delivers safe and reliable transport through voluntary co-operation, the essence of the free market. Uber is winning because it is quicker, more reliable, more convenient, more personable and often cheaper than a regulated taxi.

The ultimate reproof for the regulatory state is that Uber is safer. Customers know their driver’s name, phone number and the vehicle’s make, model and registration…

The driver collects no cash and can rest assured that in the event of any unpleasantness Uber has their name, address and credit card details. Passengers may still be drunks, but at least they are not random drunks.

The result is that Uber has broken the taxi driving glass ceiling. In Australia more than 10 per cent of Uber drivers are women, the company reports, and the number is increasing every month. That’s more than double the proportion of women who reported driving cars for a living in Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra in the 2011 census.

In the end, the biggest disruption from Uber is not that unleashed on the regulated taxi industry but on the idea of regulation itself…