The politics of fear

February 26, 2015 2 comments

The politics of fear is in overdrive. It is easy to show that people’s fear of events is often drastically out of proportion to the actual risk of those events, and one of the best examples is the absurdly exaggerated fear of terrorism.

Over the last few decades there has been an average of about four Australian terror victims per year (including Australians overseas). To put that into perspective, in an average year about 20 people die from falling off chairs, 23 die from falling off ladders, 42 die from falling out of bed, and 53 die from falling down stairs. We need a “war on falling” instead of a “war on terror”.
Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Should we use price signals for GP visits?

October 4, 2014 2 comments

My suggested health reform compromise started with the assumption that price signals are useful in helping to ensure efficient and effective decisions. The question I was trying to solve was how to introduce a price signal in a way that did not disadvantage the poorest people in our society, and in that context I think my suggestion is better than the government’s current policy.

However, some people claim that we should not use price signals for GP visits… so it is worth addressing that claim. The argument against GP price signals is that they might discourage people from getting a check up, and those check ups could prevent future health costs that may well be higher.

Early detection of health problems is certainly a good thing. But that’s only half of the story.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

A compromise policy on health care reform

October 4, 2014 1 comment

In the budget earlier this year the government proposed reducing their subsidy to doctors by $5/visit, which would mean that doctors would then charge their customers a co-payment. The suggested amount for the co-payment was $7/visit, with a maximum payment of $70/year for concession card holders and children.

This policy has been widely opposed, with Labor, Greens, and Palmer all condemning the spending cuts, a large outcry from the medical industry and the left-wing chatterati, and a negative reaction from a majority of the public. If nothing changes, then it looks likely that the reform will fail in the Senate and nothing will change.

Here is an alternative (more moderate) reform proposal that achieves many of the same goals but might be more popular…

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Queensland’s boring budget

June 3, 2014 Comments off

NOTE: This article was writing at the request of The Conversation, where it was first published.

With the release of their plan to sell and lease some assets after the next election, the state government has shifted attention away from their budget. Though in truth, it would have been quite easy to distract people from this budget, because there is nothing new.

This is a boring budget.

We already knew that the ever-elusive budget surplus had disappeared. Two years ago I commented in The Conversation that: “The forecast for a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 is nice, but it is hard to take long-term budget predictions too seriously” and also that “it is easy to predict future austerity and surpluses, but it is harder to actually make it happen”. Time has justified that skepticism. The government’s original estimate for 2014/15 was a $0.7 billion surplus, but they are now expecting a $2.3 billion deficit.

Read more…

Understanding the anti-capitalists

June 3, 2014 Comments off

I think that “capitalism” is such a contested, misunderstood, misused, and vague concept that it is best to avoid when discussing political philosophy. But whether I like it or not… the word is often used.  So what do people mean when they complain about “capitalism”? Sometimes the word means “corporatism” and sometimes it means “voluntary trade” and sometimes it means “the status quo”.

But there is another way that some people use the word…

The world is not utopia, and (unless you’re religious) then it wasn’t created for us, which means that there is no inherent guarantee that everybody is going to have everything they want. There is scarcity in the world… not just a limited number of cars or caves or cats, but perhaps more importantly a limited amount of time. Some people react badly to finding out that scarcity exists, and that they aren’t a special snowflake who can insist on getting everything they want.
Read more…

The right to be a bigot

May 26, 2014 1 comment

Should people have a right to be a bigot? The current law (with significant public support) says that people cannot be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc in your private business dealings. On the rare occasions that people oppose such laws, they are generally accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic etc themselves… as happened to Rand Paul in America.

Despite that risk, this is my argument for why people should have full freedom of association, including the right to choose who they deal with, even when they’re being assholes.

By way of introduction, let me say that I can understand why people want to force others to behave according to their own morals, which is a fairly common theme through history. And I understand that forcing people to follow the morals of the majority is always a politically populist position that will generally win votes at the ballot box. But I argue that it is immoral, unnecessary and dangerous to give the government (made up of imperfect politicians and bureaucrats) the power to force people to associate with each other against their will.

My personal approach to social issues is fairly progressive in that I think we should encourage acceptance of different races, gender identities, religions, sexual orientations, lifestyles, etc… and I like to think that I have set a fairly good example through words and deeds, and perhaps influenced a few people along the way. However, I don’t think I should use violence (or the threat of violence through government) to force my morality on other people.

Read more…

March 28, 2014 Comments off

Sydney has The Centre for Independent Studies… Melbourne has the Institute for Public Affairs… Perth has Mannkal and Adelaide has the Bert Kelly Research Centre… but for over 2 million people in and around Brisbane, we sadly don’t have any large group or serious money to host classical liberal and free-market thinkers. What we do have are the ALS Friedman Dinners.




Since 2011 we have hosted some of the best & brightest of Australia and a few visiting guests — including Dr Tom Palmer (USA), Prof Jim Allan, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, Prof Judith Sloan, Dr Jonathan Crowe, the Hon Senator George Brandis, Prof Deirdre McCloskey (USA, co-host Economic Society), Dr Alex Robson, the Hon Peter Reith, Prof Jason Potts, Dr David Martin-Jones, Prof Jeff Bennett, the Hon Bill O’Chee, and many more. Next on the list is Brendan O’Neill… who is touring from the UK (thanks to the CIS) and the Friedman Dinners will host his only event in Brisbane on the 10th of April. Should be good.

If you want to hear about future events coming to Brisbane, make sure you are on our mailing list.