Sunday, August 06, 2006


This blog is 6 months old today. From an uncertain start on February 6, 2006 this is my 422nd post - a surprising 2.3 posts per day.

Generally I have enjoyed the blogging experience.

Positive comments on my blog with an overwhelming (or even moderate) sense of appreciation are very welcome on this solemn occasion. Negative comments also welcome - although less so.

About the only interesting news item to arrive on time to help me celebrate today was the report in today's Age that abolishing state governments would save Australians about 5% of its GDP or about $30 billion annually.

These proposals for a binary governmental structure – strong federal and strong regional - have surfaced and disappeared over the years. I don’t believe the 5% figure and assume that such a binary system would essentially increase power at the centre. The reform would be approximately realised if responsibilities for health and education were transferred to the Commonwealth. As I have posted before I am unclear of the advantages of such centralisation - particularly with respect to education. I'd be interested in observations on this. My guess is there is some efficiency cost in retaining the state governments though not a large one. In education, and perhaps even in health, there are some virtues in retaining competition in the provision of these key public goods.


weekbyweek said...

congratulations, and well done

Bring Back EP at LP said...

We are just wild abot Harry,

He is no dumbclark!

FXH said...

harry I enjoy the blog. I'm curious - do you see it as an academic blog, an economic blog or just another blog that happens to cross over with your work?

As far as the abolish states idea goes .... It all seems almost plausable ntil you step back and ask the big question. That is. So you'd want the current services to be run by either you local government or the Feds? - health services, main roads, traffic lights, schools, water, electricity, gas, ... and so on

No one answers yes. Can you imagine the local yokels negotiating with Canberra?

FXH said...

Mmh I didn't realise you'd been certified a fascist by Soon and Yobbo. I might have dissociate myself from kalimna. I would have thought on the smoking issue it should have been more of a mollycoddle nanny state commie Stalinist.

I'm keeping close eye on the rooftop gardens. I'll invite you along next time nabakov and me go along to The Supper Club for ciggarillos and brandy or absinthe.

Phil said...

Congrats Harry, hope to see you here in another six/12/18/24 etc.....

Sam Ward said...

"I'll invite you along next time nabakov and me go along to The Supper Club for ciggarillos and brandy or absinthe."

I'm afraid Harry won't be allowing you to engage in such dangerous behaviours in the future. It's for your own good.

not my real name said...

Well done Harry - always informative and interesting.

I have no idea about concrete cost benefit, but I get the impression Australia is incredibly overgoverned. The idea when federating was not to take power from the centre per se, but was to ensure the smaller states (wa, qld, tas) held enough power over the bigger (nsw, vic) that they could influence policy.

The idea was to give up as little power as possible to the centre, when in actual fact I get the idea it would have been better to simply remove that power from the states. It wasn't about convenience, or about having roads etc dealt with more locally, it was purely about protecting power interests.

To my mind, there is no reason why state governments need exist, especially given that most of their revenue raising power has been removed. This creates the rara about pokies taxes, stamp duty and land tax and why we pay outrageous car rego fees. If states have little or no tax raising power, why should they have to provide services? Surely the services are better provided by the entity with the money.

If not, and if it is better to have services delivered locally and paid for by the centre, surely local governments can do the same work as the state government does now.

Just a note for fxh - in many much larger countries there is no problem running a nation wide health service from the middle (say, NHS in the UK), roads and traffic lights are paid for by local councils, utilities are mostly privatised and if schools were paid for by the centre we would at least have a uniform education system, rather than a system whereby kids all over the country are learning different things.

Lucy Tartan said...

Congratulations Harry.

FXH said...

not real name - I'm aware of the UK system and others, but most of them are the product of years and years - (centuries?) of expertise and sorted out relationships between the centre and periphery.

Most Australian local government with a few exceptions is small in size (no scale economies) smaller in mind and vision and even smaller in skills and expertise. The states have enough problems dealing effectively with the centre feds at the present after 100 years or so, imagine another 100 years with whacko local governments dominated by League of Rights in rural areas and Labor hacks and Lib silvertails in urban areas... nightmares

hc said...

fxh, Increasingly the blog reflects general interests rather than particular academic interests. But I am writing academic papers on substance and behavioural addictions so I often post on these topics. Sometimes too I use the blog as a filing system for things I am interested in but no immediate urge to pursue in depth - maybe later.

I am also interested in economics and politics generally.

I often seek to enjoy myself although my attempted humour sometimes falls flat.

Its a mix.

David Jeffery said...

Congrats Harry, I certainly enjoy reading it each day.

Guy said...

Keep it up Harry - nice work.

not my real name said...

fxh - I take the point and understand what you are saying about local councils today. I guess as a theoretical model it should work, but I can see that in our present situation it may well not. Also, those hundreds of years of working things out had to begin somewhere, no?

My guess would be, though, that if state governments were abolished, many current bureaucrats working for the state would simply be redistributed around local councils. Prob not that much would change, really, as state pollies would probably also simply redistribute themselves.

Interesting to think about, anyway.

Joel said...

Keep up the good work!

It is easy to get discouraged by the quibbling when you blog, don't let it get you down.

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