Oz Blog News Commentary

Articles from Harry Clarke

Handbook of the Birds of the World

September 29, 2015 - 17:09 -- Admin

Around 1992 the Spanish wildlife publisher Lynx began its 16 volume Handbook of the Birds of the World.  It is an extraordinary achievement with hundreds of photographers and artists contributing and with a vast amount of general as well as specific ornithological information supplied. It is the only animal family to be completely chronicled in this way and is a major scientific undertaking.

Social insurance & the welfare state as substitutes for averting conflict

September 26, 2015 - 09:51 -- Admin

The development of the welfare state in the Western economies between 1930 and 1990 coincided with a puzzling pattern in the taxation of top incomes. Effective tax rates at the top increased sharply but then gradually decreased, even as social transfers continued rising. These authors propose a new theory of the development of the welfare state to explain these facts. Our main insight is that social insurance and top income taxation are substitutes for averting social conflict.

Nationals get water

September 16, 2015 - 09:34 -- Admin

One of the first decisions of Prime Minister Turnbull is to transfer responsibility for national water policy to the Nationals, specifically to Barnaby Joyce.  Apart from the fact that this puts water in the hands of a particular interest group – water-using farmers – this makes me uneasy for two interrelated reasons.

Consensus on tax reform

September 14, 2015 - 13:27 -- Admin

The consensus on tax reform that is emerging (see e.g. AFR today, editorial, paywalled)  is a continuation of the tax reform trends that have been around for at least two decades.   The basic idea is to swap the tax mix around so that there are fewer adverse effects on working, saving, investing and taking risks.  I summarise the main elements as 5 points.

DVD rental stores & history.

September 10, 2015 - 14:43 -- Admin

DVD rental stores have been buffeted by competition and technological change in a way that is fascinating to students of business history. A fun thing to consider too because simple perceptions here drive justifiable economic knowledge and insight.

Congestion Pricing & Infrastructure Australia (amended repost)

September 5, 2015 - 09:33 -- Admin

I have been glancing through the 3-part report by Infrastructure Australia (a summary here) on Australia’s infrastructure needs over coming decades. I was mainly interested in the transport sector and proposals that looked – on casual reading of the press – like yet another case for user charges (congestion charging and heavy vehicle charging for road damage costs).

Pension reform (amended repost)

September 5, 2015 - 09:12 -- Admin

The reforms on eligibility for the pension that Labor has opposed seem sensible to me, The current eligibility for a part pension (for a couple) is $1.15m in assets whereas under the proposed Coalition-cum-Green reform this is reduced to $823,000.

Suppose couples want to leave no bequests and that they own a house worth $650,000. Suppose also they retiree at age 65 and know they will live for 25 years to age 90.