Category: Economics

A sugar tax won’t fix the damage done by ‘public health’

A recent TV Program has again raised the issue of a sugar tax. All the usual public health suspects were of course in favour. They also bemoaned the influence of industry whilst complaining that they themselves do not get enough funding and lack clout.

It is difficult to know where to start. Public health is generously funded by government and is not particularly accountable.

Let us be crystal clear. It was not the food industry that introduced low fat dietary guidelines in the absence of any evidence in the early 1980’s. It was not big pharma or big sugar or big food. It was public health.  Whilst pretending to be small and powerless, the reality is that public health leverages the power of big government.

This has been evidenced by trials of doctors such as Garry Fettke in Tasmania and Tim Noakes in South Africa where complaints by elements in … Read the rest

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Internet privacy: why the government is not going to help, and what we should do about it

Recent debate around internet privacy and sharing of user data has resulted in  a lot of blame, but no real solutions. The truth is that governments have a vested interest in collecting data on citizens. It may seem like they don’t like their citizen’s data being misused, but in the end it is much easier to ask Facebook for data on an individual than it is to collect it themselves. As consumers, what can we do to stop our data being shared, without giving up on the digital world altogether?

Free As They Want You To Be

Facebook and Google are the two sites from which most internet users begin every session. The amount of data they collect on individuals is staggering, assigning each user a unique ID from which they keep a virtual dossier on every search, every post, every click. They are companies which run for profit, as Read the rest

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Are Trump’s tax cuts working?

Better economic performance is the most important reason to adopt pro-growth reforms such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Even small increases in economic growth – especially if sustained over time – can translate into meaningful improvements in living standards.

But there are several reasons why it won’t be easy to “prove” that last year’s tax reform boosted the economy.

And there are probably other factors to mention as well.

The takeaway is that the nation will enjoy good results from the 2017 tax changes, but I fully expect that the class-warfare crowd will claim that any good news is for reasons other than tax reform. And … Read the rest

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A Public Choice case study: Senator Hanson and company tax

Senator Pauline Hanson is considered something of a dangerous joke in polite Australian society — an Australian Nigel Farage to placate the “deplorables”. Public Choice theory on the other hand suggests that Senator Hanson’s latest backflip on tax reveals her to be a fairly astute politican.

Senator Pauline Hanson of the One Nation Party — the party of the “forgotten” and the disgruntled — has recently changed her mind on tax policy. Initially, in response to the plan outlined in the Federal Budget to significantly decrease corporate tax in Australia, she changed her mind on and promised she would not support corporate tax cuts. This week she changed her mind again, and asked for voters to call her office and offer their perspectives in the wake of a poll showing that 63% of Australians supported the Federal Government’s policy. To put that in context, that’s roughly similar numbers to the

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We’re all Keynesians now

Classical economic theory is all but extinct within the lecture theatres of universities worldwide, and Keynesian thinking dominates the decision making of governments internationally. Keynesian economics advocates for state intervention in the economy, arguing that it is necessary to moderate the business cycle and provide overall economic stability.  Regrettably, most modern policymakers now accept Keynesian economics as truth, rather than as contested theory.

But this was not always the case. In 1981, Margaret Thatcher went head to head against 364 distinguished Keynesian economists, and won.

Among the 364 economists were seventy-six past or present professors, a majority of the Chief Economic Advisors to the government in the post-WWII period, as well as 11 senior members of the Royal Economic Society.  Each of them disagreed with Thatcher’s strategy to decrease the British fiscal deficit by raising taxes and cut public spending in a time of recession, but by showing a … Read the rest

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Regulated public utility monopolies are not ‘natural’

Editor: A version of this article by LibertyWorks’ advisory board member Darren Brady Nelson, was published by Master Resource, July 2 2015. It has been updated to be applicable to an Australian audience as well as with more recent data on the US public utility prices.

Every Australian business and household is directly and indirectly impacted by the seemingly never-ending rise in public utility prices (including airports, electricity, gas, post, public transport, rail, seaports, telecommunications, and water & sewerage). State and federal regulation of these so called natural monopolies (very worryingly, now including the Internet) in fact virtually “locks in” such an upward trajectory.

Consequently, consumers are paying a pseudo-tax that is hidden from plain sight. This is in great part due to, as pointed out by economist Ludwig von Mises, that:

No alleged “fact finding” and no armchair speculation can discover another price at which demand and

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Cities can grow without deadlock

Perhaps you’ve heard of the City of Melbourne’s misguided plan to ban non-resident cars from the CBD. It’s understandable: our economy and population are growing, and the resulting congestion is costing us thousands of dollars per year individually, and billions to the economy. It isolates us from family, friends and work. But cities can still grow without getting us stuck in traffic, missing increasingly overcrowded and delayed trains, or left unable to afford property. All this is happening because workplaces are too far from residents living in the suburbs, which effectively funnels residents into the inner city for work. It must change.

First, we must unwind planning laws that prevent offices, homes and apartments from being constructed alongside each other and throughout the city. These laws also raise housing prices by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Second, instead of banning cars, charge commuters for using congested roads and trains. Third, … Read the rest

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Socialism: a dreary failure, malignantly evil, or both?

When trying to convince someone about the downsides of socialism, I generally make a practical argument. I point out that socialism has universally failed, whether looking at totalitarian versions in places such as North Korea and Cuba or democratic versions in places such as Venezuela and Greece.

Simply stated, the particular strain of socialism doesn’t make a difference. At the end of the day, the greater the level of statism, the greater the level of economic damage.

But our friends on the left aren’t discouraged. Indeed, the support for cranks like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn is a sign that socialist policies still have appeal to some people.

Writing for CapX, Kristian Niemietz of London’s Institute for Economic Affairs contemplates the resurgence of socialism. He starts by citing examples of pro-socialist writings.

Opinion pieces which tell us to stop obsessing over socialism’s past failures…have almost become a

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Why capitalism trumps socialism

Sadly, the argument that capitalism is superior to socialism is one that has to be repeatedly made. Despite the evidence of history, socialism is still touted as a viable economic system by idealists and the naive.

Socialists probably have good intentions. They want to make the world a better place. They see inequalities and injustice and seek to alleviate these things using the most straightforward path possible. According to socialists, society needs to be reformed, people need to change, the rich need to share their wealth, things need to be made more fair. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and measures designed to make the world a fairer place, often have the opposite effect.

Socialism requires that everyone must agree to operate within it, or be forced to. Administering collective ownership of the means of production, requires administrators. People who must make decisions on the behalf Read the rest

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