Review - Institute of Public Affairs
- Institute of Public Affairs
- Publication date:
- First document:
- Vol. 56 Nbr. 2, June 2004
- Last document:
- Vol. 63 Nbr. 2, June 2011
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- The Biggest Loser Is the Nanny-State
The recently concluded reality television show, The Biggest Loser, contains some surprising lessons for public policy. Of all the reality television shows bombarding people, The Biggest Loser best combines entertainment with the spectacle of social stratification. And The Biggest Loser contestants fulfil their expectations. The Biggest Loser approach is to offer a massive financial incentive in the form of $100,000 of prize money to lose weight, plus substantial amounts of personal training and a fair dose of new-age group therapy support. Locking every obese person up in a reality television show for months on end is not a public policy option, even if it is one of the very few approaches that clearly works. As the contestants in The Biggest Loser show, and research supports, there is ...
- Wild Colonial Boy
Colony: Strange Origins of One of the Earliest Modern Democracies, by Reg Hamilton, is reviewed.
- Bad History Now a National Problem
Australia's unique cultural heritage risks being lost if the next generation is not taught about its classical liberal origins. Australia's education ministers have decided there will be a single National Curriculum for the country. The National Curriculum dictates what every student is taught up to Year 10. The plan of the ministers is that by the end of 2013 the National Curriculum for English, Mathematics, Science and History will have been substantially implemented. It's no exaggeration to say the National Curriculum is a document giving politicians enormous power over the lives of the country's citizens. The National Curriculum helps shape what people think. Eventually every single Australian will have been taught according to what's in the National Curriculum. For the National Cur...
- From the Editor
Nearly a third of the savings identified in this year's federal budget is actually the government's temporary flood levy -- collecting one and a half billion dollars for the 2011-2012 financial year. This rhetorical trick -- that you can make savings by increasing revenue -- was duly and uncritically repeated in much of Australian media's budget coverage. It's an old trick. Last year's budget claimed that increasing the tobacco excise was a 'major saving'. Then there's the yearly predictable erosion of tax concessions on investments. Eliminating loopholes may be a worthy task in its own right, but they constitute, implicitly, an increase in the overall tax burden. The crowing of the government about its successful management of the global financial crisis is dangerously misplaced.
- Champions of Rights?
The proposed national curriculum, developed by the Australian Government, suggests that the ongoing struggle for human rights and freedoms in the world is fundamentally a result of the establishment in the last century of the UN and other international organizations. Indeed, the proposed curriculum asks students to consider the role of the UN in protecting human rights, when in actual fact this organization has a long tradition of shamefully declining to respond to gross human rights violations. The inclusion of the UN is all the more galling when you consider the glaring omissions from the history of the development of human rights. For nearly six decades the absolute failure of the UN to protect human rights was epitomized by its notorious Commission on Human Rights.
- The Greens and Labor: It's Time for a Divorce
When Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her carbon tax plan at the end of February, Greens leader Bob Brown and his deputy Christine Mime not only got to join her at the press conference. They also had the pleasure of seeing the Prime Minister formally adopt a policy proposal that they had put forward 12 months before. The public response was swift and severe. Less than a fortnight after Gillard broke her election promise not to put a price on carbon, the first Newspoll for March found Labor's primary vote was at an all-time low. Labor figures were debating that very matter even before the damning Newspoll. The Prime Minister's adoption of the Greens' carbon tax proposal -- despite her election time denials -- has infuriated more.
- Should Parallel Import Restrictions Be Removed?
For Tim Wilson, director of the IP and Free Trade Unit and Sinclair Davidson, senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, Parallel Import Restrictions are an unjustified government intervention into the market for books. In a highly competitive market publishers can only sell high by offering a quality product, or by monopolizing the market by restricting supply to raise prices. But government action to remove parallel import restrictions would undermine private property rights, argues Alan Moran, director of the Deregulation Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs. For practical purposes, normally a product is sold to everyone at the same price despite some people valuing it more than others. The owner, not the government, should decide when it is worth taking action to charge pe...
- Tim Flannery: Climate Prophet
Appointed by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to his $3,000 per week, part-time job in February, Climate Change commissioner Tim Flannery is tasked with turning around the climate change debate for the minority Labor administration. His comments, made in a 2004 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, are just one indicator of the depth of Flannery's quasi-religious fervor for climate change, not to mention his exaggerated sense of self-importance. Many commentators have noted the extensive use of quasi-religious language by climate activists. Followers of the hypothesis that man is responsible for so-called dangerous climate change are referred to as 'believers' whilst doubters are often labeled 'deniers', 'skeptics' and even 'heretics.' There's no doubt that Flannery is an effecti...
- Is Modern Art a One Trick Pony?
Clear visual evidence of genius exists for all to see -- albeit at rather an inconvenient distance from Australia's shores. What then, should one make of contemporary artistic figures such as Damien Hirst, for whom claims of genius have certainly been made by some at least, including -- somewhat regrettably -- by the artist himself. Just as artists can be divided between avid self-promoters and more retiring types, so in art criticism a similar division could be said to exist between writers characterize as gushers -- largely on account of their breathless enthusiasm for novelty -- and those of a more sober and historically-based turn of mind. Clearly artists making relatively conventional works -- whatever their levels of skill -- cannot possibly compete for headline-grabbing potential...
- Full of Hope or Just Hopeless?
Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope, by Tim Flannery, is reviewed.
- Emissions Trading: Towards the Biggest Economic Change in Australian History
The introduction of a wide-ranging emissions trading scheme (ETS) is, as the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, acknowledges, a 'tough whole-of-economy' measure. Many commentators have pointed to the introduction of the GST in 1999 as an economic reform on the equivalent scale of...
- Imposing Our Preferences On Whaling Cultures
Many environmentalists claim to be simply advocates for the sustainable use of resources; they claim that they are not in favor of outright banning any sort of resource use. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is such an organization, established in 1948 at the initiative of the US to...
- Bourgeois Dignity
: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World, by Deirdre McCloskey, is reviewed. ...
- Empty Spaces: Government Regulation Is Killing Australian Culture
There is now an increasingly significant barrier to a vibrant Australian culture -- nanny state regulations and bureaucratic red tape. The most difficult time for any artist is at the beginning of their career. Artistic entrepreneurs don't hold the promise of windfall profits that their commercial...
- Biotechnology Is Bioterrific, Not Bioterrifying
Edging Towards BioUtopia, by Richard Hindmarsh, is reviewed. ...
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Austrian Economics*
Economics can be confusing enough on its own without the added complexity of dozens of competing 'schools of thought' with different approaches, assumptions and conclusions. For those interested in free market economics and the argument for small government, there is one school of thought that is...
- How Land Supply Restrictions Have Locked Young People Out of the Housing Market, and How Australia Is Starting to Figure It Out
Adjusted for inflation, the price of houses in Australia has more than doubled over the past 30 years. In a landmark address to the Housing Industry Association in July 2005, the Institute of Public Affairs demonstrated that the stellar rise in house prices across Australia was due to land costs....
- Vi@Gr@ Sold H^R^: Is Your Annoyance Our Problem?
By the end of the year, the number of emails sent worldwide is predicted to reach 136 billion per day. An estimated 64% of these, however, are spam -- unsolicited emails sent in bulk, usually of a commercial nature. In response, governments around the world have stepped in to try to curb the evil...
- Universities 'Debate' Climate Change
Universities have bought into the climate change debate in a big big way -- degrees in climate change and sustainability seem to be setting up an entire generation to be completely reliant on the climate change 'consensus'. Take Youthdecide.com.au, which markets itself as a national youth vote on...
- The Biggest Loser Is the Nanny-State
The recently concluded reality television show, The Biggest Loser, contains some surprising lessons for public policy. Of all the reality television shows bombarding people, The Biggest Loser best combines entertainment with the spectacle of social stratification. And The Biggest Loser contestants...