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Club Troppo

Economic, legal, political and social commentary

Last Build Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2018 02:29:00 +0000


Stars falling from the skies*

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:31:32 +0000

*cross-posted from Screen Hub. The #MeToo sexual harassment tsunami generated by the unmasking of American screen industry heavyweights Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey has hit Australian shores with a vengeance.  As an old Monty Python sketch observed: ‘Nobody expects the … Continue reading

An Ancient Greek idea could foil Brexit’s democratic tragedy

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:35:36 +0000

From today’s column in the Guardian UK. There’s a chasm between the will of the British people as expressed in their 52 percent vote for Brexit and their considered will. Turns out ordinary Britons deliberating amongst their peers think things … Continue reading

Lateral thinking on constitutional reform

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:46:45 +0000

Australia has a backlog of issues that will need to be resolved by constitutional referendum sooner or later: Indigenous recognition (especially the Voice to Parliament); resolving the problems caused by archaic and unworkable parliamentary disqualification rules in section 44 of … Continue reading

Fred Argy: RIP

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:28:27 +0000

I was rung yesterday by Ida Argy, wife of Fred Argy and she told me that Fred had recently had a stroke from which he did not recover. Fred was rather like my Dad Fred. A Jewish immigrant – Dad was from Austria … Continue reading

Now is the time for complacency: RBA v Bank of England edition

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 05:43:30 +0000

Reposted from the Mandarin I In our contemporary lexicon ‘independence’ – for instance of a government body – is usually a Good Thing. 1 But if we’re thinking of independence as a good thing for an agency to have – for instance the Productivity … Continue reading

Do Black Politicians Matter?

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 01:01:28 +0000

Do black politicians matter Abstract: This paper exploits the history of Reconstruction after the American Civil War to estimate the causal effect of politician race on public finance. I overcome the endogeneity between electoral preferences and black representation using the … Continue reading

Evidence-based policy: why is progress so slow and what can be done about it

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 05:34:30 +0000

Here’s a presentation I gave at the anniversary of Australian Policy Online which has been cunningly rebranded under its old acronym as Analysis and Policy Observatory.  I gave a similar one at Kings College London a few weeks previously. Note that some of … Continue reading

More fully human

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 05:38:59 +0000

Well there’s been a frisson of excitement in the chess and AI world lately with the extraordinary performance of AlphaZero – essentially the computer that mastered the game Go – a game which proved, despite the relative simplicity of its rules, a … Continue reading

Affected speech impediments: is this a uniquely English phenomenon?

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 04:15:14 +0000

Last night, having read a fantastic essay (pdf) by the great historian of revolutionary and pre-revolutionary America Bernard Bailyn, I made my way to the lecture series in honour of Isaiah Berlin where there were plenty more interesting lectures. In any event I’ve known of … Continue reading

Could more “plebisurveys” restore public confidence in Australian democracy?

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 13:42:04 +0000

The extraordinary outpouring of national happiness following the passage of the same sex marriage legislation on Thursday unavoidably gives rise to the question of whether some similar community consultation/plebiscite/survey mechanism (perhaps a well-designed and secure online survey mechanism rather than … Continue reading

Is the end of Brexit nigh?

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 09:53:36 +0000

The EU and the UK government have just agreed to muddle on in their negotiations. Nothing is truly decided until everything is decided, but they have adopted a position document (see here) that details what they want the next steps … Continue reading

Advance Australia Fair: ignore the other national histories on offer.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:47:15 +0000

National history is the story that binds ‘us who make up the nation’ into a single entity with a collective memory. It has a purpose and as such we can choose what historical events and realities to put into that … Continue reading

Latino Film Festival 2017

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 21:54:56 +0000

Festival Website | Films | Schedule Top Picks You’re Killing Me Susana (Opening Night) You’re Killing Me Susana tells the story of Eligio, a man who wakes up one day to find out that his wife Susana has left him … Continue reading

Why Blockchain has no economic future.

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 09:31:56 +0000

[expanded from the post on JohnMenadue] When Bitcoin went public in 2009 it introduced to the world of finance and economics the technology of blockchain. Even the many who thought Bitcoin would never make it as a major currency were … Continue reading

Let’s have another World War!

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:41:15 +0000

Sometimes, it feels like 1910 all over again. Then, a confident Germany was the up-and-coming industrial power house, fearing an even more up-and-coming Russia, with the UK and France desperately holding on to their colonial empires. Now, a confident China … Continue reading

Forget Soylent Green – let’s make money out of ‘em

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 11:27:49 +0000

The following is a guest post by RHONDA PRYOR, a recently retired senior manager in the Australian aged care sector. We are hoping Rhonda may become a regular contributor to Troppo. If you woke up to read the Government had … Continue reading

The #MeToo moment: another disaster for the Democrats?

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 20:50:20 +0000

The #MeToo flood of stories of women who feel abused by men – ranging from lurid stares to straightforward rape – seems like a disaster to me for the Democrats. Not because of the stories themselves, but because of how … Continue reading

Detoxing democracy – detoxing Brexit

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 04:37:16 +0000

As readers of my Twitter feed will know, I’m heading to London to give some seminars. One on the use and abuse of wellbeing to target policy at LSE, one on evidence-based policy at King’s College London Policy Institute and a public lecture titled “Detoxing … Continue reading

Iranian Film Festival

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 05:51:16 +0000

Festival Website | Films | Schedule Top Picks Subdued (Opening Night) Mina, recently divorced from her husband, struggles to maintain an independent life with no supportive family. She eventually finds a job in a restaurant. A friendship between her and … Continue reading

Public organisations and political advocacy

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 02:09:09 +0000

Various people like Margaret Court are stroppy that private companies like Qantas are supporting same sex marriage. I’m not too sure I can see a problem. This is largely self-interested behaviour from our corporates and the pursuit of that self-interest – … Continue reading

Against Lakoff’s hate speech argument

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 04:19:39 +0000

There seem to be more and more claims that “hate speech” should not be entitled to the normal privileges of free speech. To my surprise, one of them is George Lakoff – famed cognitive scientist, philosopher and metaphor expert. Here’s the admirably … Continue reading

Vale: the car industry

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 02:51:34 +0000

I wrote the following comment on Gene Tunny’s blogpost on a piece documenting the last car rolling off an Australian mass production line. (We still make specialty cars in runs of a hundred or so a month). The history of automotive industry policy … Continue reading

What have wellbeing frameworks ever done for us: Part One

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 02:22:32 +0000

Cross posted at The Mandarin. “Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds” — Vincent Van Gogh I’ve previously critiqued the process by which a lot of organisations do strategic thinking and planning and proposed an alternative. In this series of essays … Continue reading

Things worth doing: tackling child poverty edition

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 03:07:52 +0000

I’ve previously commented that Brian Howe was the great, quiet achiever of the Hawke/Keating years, who then turned around out of office and, rather than burnish his own reputation, got right on with the business playing a major role in … Continue reading