catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Archive for September 2005

Sydney bloggers unite Sunday 9

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Nicholas Gruen is coming to town next weekend, Sunday Oct 9.

It is a long and dusty road, so he will probably need a drink when he arrives. Do we have any takers for a bloggers pub night on Sunday 9. I seem to recall that the Clock Hotel in Crown Street, Surry Hills was the venue last time.

Any takers, any other suggestions for a venue?

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September 30, 2005 at 10:47 am

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The Austrian Economists site

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The Austrian economists at this rather recent site are Peter Boettke, Chris Coyne, Peter Leeson and Frederick Sautet. They each have sites of their own and this is a collaborative effort to keep people up to date with some of the doings of Austrians in the world of learning and also in practice. This is the site that pointed me in the direction of the Wolfewitz speech at the World Bank and the Enterprise Africa! Project.

They link to the Centre for the Economic Study of Religion, scan the contents of the current edition of The Austrian Review of Economics, speculate as to the reasons why the Austrians are not “at the table” of economic dialogue, and consider the law as a factor of production.

I should have mentioned on the topic of religion and Austrian economics, when Sam Greg was a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies he wrote some exciting papers on the compatibility of Catholic doctrine and Austrian economics. He has since moved on to his spiritual home at the Acton Institute. For trivia buffs, Hayek wanted to name his new liberal group after Acton or Tocqueville but Frank Knight would not have it because they were RCs. Hence the Mont Pelerin Society.

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September 29, 2005 at 10:39 pm

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Enterprise Africa!

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The John Templeton Foundation has funded the Enterprise Africa! project which will be run by a multi-continental partnership consisting of The Mercatus Center at George Mason University (US) with the Free Market Foundation (South Africa) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (London). The purpose of the project is to seek innovative solutions to problems of poverty in Africa and to move towards policies that generate more opportunities for the world’s poor to improve their quality of life.

While western elites hold conferences on how best to redistribute wealth, unsung entrepreneurs are quietly erasing – at the micro level – devastating problems of poverty in some of the poorest places in the world. This fresh perspective – that the solutions to world poverty are not to be found in international aid bureaucracies so much as in the hearts and hands of the world’s poor themselves–is being developed and substantiated in order to provide policy makers and opinion leaders with new information about which institutions hold the most promise for Africa by supporting enterprise-based solutions to poverty.

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September 29, 2005 at 10:17 pm

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Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank

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Paul Wolfowitz has delivered his maiden speech at the World Bank. Extracts are posted on the site of the Mercatus Centre which is based at the George Mason University. There is a link to the full text of the speech at the World Bank site.

Wolfowitz said that sustainable development depends as much on leadership and accountability, on civil society and women, on the private sector and on the rule of law, as it does on labor or capital.

This echoes the theme of the United States’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the work of several Mercatus Center scholars in emphasising the roles of formal and informal institutions, economic freedom, property rights, and the rule of law in development.

President Wolfowitz cited as key issues in development leadership and accountability, civil society and women, the private sector (“the most important engine of growth and job creation”), and the rule of law. Significantly, he set out a definition of results-based program evaluation that focuses on results as they relate to people.

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September 29, 2005 at 9:45 pm

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What would you do if you found somebody else's $600 in your bank account?

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In last week’s discussion of the social norms surrounding money found in the street commenters though that people were more inclined to do the right thing by other individuals than corporations or, in my case, governments. This week there was stark confirmation of that thesis. While 70% of wallets with contact details in them were returned in Australia, just 3% of 2,000 families mistakenly paid the $600 per child bonus twice last year returned the over-payment to the federal government. Admittedly, there are some mitigating factors. The goverment’s decision not to force the repayment may have legitimised keeping the money in the eyes of some recipients (should governments encourage this kind of behaviour?) and some recipients may not have even realised that they had received the money (though that highlights the absurdity of the policy; if you won’t notice an extra $600 you don’t need it). Psychologically, I suspect that the active giving of $600 is seen differently from simply finding $600, even though both are the result of mistakes. Still, a 3% honesty rate is very, very low even after accounting for these factors.

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September 29, 2005 at 8:55 pm

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Ornithological notes from Crikey

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By Crikey reporter Sophie Vorrath.

More good news for Crikey’s political birdwatchers. Following last week’s look at the Latham’s Snipe, it has come to our attention that the latin name for the Australian Scrub Turkey is Alectura Lathami. According to the Australian Natural History Safari website, these bids are “bullies” – “solitary in nature and aggressive to each other and to other lesser species.” Who knew!
Other bird species with Canberra migration patterns (with thanks to Crikey subscriber Dan) are the Abbott’s Booby – a medium-sized seabird from the Pelicaniformes order. And the Costello’s Tern – which we couldn’t find anywhere on the world wide web, but which our informer suggests is an endangered type of slim and graceful waterbird that “benefits from a research project that has had billions of dollars allocated in the forward estimates.”

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September 28, 2005 at 4:40 pm

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Is the UN adding value?

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Some trenchant criticism of the UN capacity to move beyond talk to effective action. This concerns the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) project established five years ago to make an impact on poverty, hunger and ill-health for the world’s poorest citizens by 2015. The article claims that five years down the track there is not even a coherent plan to achieve measurable objectives.

It may be relevant to note that the economic historian and methodologist Mark Blaug spent some years in a UN agency writing papers on education for the Third World. In his memoire he admitted that he could not understand why he wasted so much time in a task that was palpably useless and ineffective, except that he was comfortable and well paid for his time. How many other UN functionaries might say the same thing in unguarded moments?

For example, according to WHO, about a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while 80% of all illness in the world’s poorest regions is linked to water-bred diseases. Poor water and sanitation annually kills about five million people, according to the UN’s own statistics, and 50% of people in the developing world suffer from a disease associated with poor water quality and inadequate sanitation. Given these facts, you would think that there would be some carefully crafted plan, as part of the MDG strategy, for addressing these problems. Yet there is none.
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September 28, 2005 at 7:56 am

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