I have been too busy to actively blog the past few days but a few issues caught my attention.
1. Bill Hensen. I enjoyed this post by Liz Conor on the Hensen controversy (Is it Hensen or Henson – both spellings are widely used). Conor's post makes some comparisons with Nabokov’s Lolita – and tries to understand the ‘peculiar’ beauty of art involving young beautiful people while feeling caution and fear over their vulnerability. As a parent of two daughters (& one son) I can relate exactly to what she says. Of course Nakokov is discussing the views of a young woman from the perspective of a pedophile while Hansen is definitely not taking such a perspective.
There is no debate on this issue on the right side of politics . Hensen’s work is pornography pure and simple to these sober minded defenders of the faith. But there is plenty of misogynistic porn on the web – comparing its to Hensen’s work shows there is no overlap at all. The religious right have predictably voiced their support for the interpretative role of storm-troopers in our art galleries. Predictably Kevin Rudd has felt it necessary to inject his ‘absolutely revolting’ critique something which really appeals to these fanatics. Rudd should butt out of these moral debates or use more measured language.
2. FuelWatch. The FuelWatch scheme is likely to make very little difference to the cost of petrol for motorists. Apart from imposing hefty compliance costs on motorists it seems likely to encourage coordination among retailers and hence increased collusion – if anything this might push prices up a smidgeon. Rudd’s abuse of the public servants for leaking their opposition to the scheme is understandable – nobody likes being shown to appear an idiot – but his bully-like threat to increase their workloads seems to be the response of a peanut. More of this idiocy to come I am sure. Rudd choose what he thought were an indefensible group of ‘fat cats’ to use earlier Labor language but is revealed to be a total hypocrite in terms of his pre-election comments on the needs of ‘working families’ to enjoy their leisure.
3. Medicare Tax Levy Threshold. The move to raise the income tax threshold for avoiding the Medicare tax levy – from $100,000 to $150,000 for families – is the most foolish policy move of the Rudd Government so far. Forcing those who can afford it to pay the cost of their private health cover helps release resources for public health. This measure hurts those constituents Labor would claim to be supporting. Labor Health Minister Roxon should learn some basic economics. It makes perfect sense to encourage private participation in health insurance by providing tax relief given that Australia has a national health scheme that provides a measure of health cover at zero explicit cost.
4. Climate Change & the Right. I generally enjoy the wit of Tim Blair and the hard edge that Andrew Bolt applies to current events but I still wonder about the propensity – which they share with members of much of the conservative right - to continually (on a weekly basis) provide posts which deny or ridicule the theory of anthropogenic climate change. It is a interesting question. It is reflected in the fact that over at Troppo’s blogroll I am described as an economist with mostly conservative views who unusually takes a strong stand on climate change issues.
The science on climate change is overwhelmingly accepted. Why are the right so vehemently opposed to this science? One reason seems to be simple anti-intellectualism and to desire to appear to be against 'mainstream thinking'. Another reason is the implication that global action needs to be taken to deal with global warming – this hardly advances the cause of laissez faire.
But this latter reason is illogical. Belief in laissez faire needs to be based on the facts not on blind religious faith and public good/externality reasons for intervening in market economies have been accepted for over 200 years. The climate change issue is an extension of these arguments.
Moreover, accepting these arguments and moving to adopt carbon taxes or transferable carbon quotas does not make you ‘anti-market’ – accounting for climate change costs can be understood as attempting to get markets to work more effectively.