Our politicians and their advisors get no kudos for taking risks. They err on the side of caution. The risk of deaths from COVID-19 is immediate and visible. What is not seen[1] is the emotional, health and prosperity costs born by those who have lost their jobs and their businesses, or are missing their contact with friends and family.

It is time to return to work and play and socialising.

For the past few weeks, I have been observing the excellent infographic on COVID-19 from the Australian Government Department of Health.

As of 25 May, Australia had recorded 7118 cases, of whom 102 had died an...

One of the delights of the English language is that its extensive vocabulary facilitates nuance.

The recent overuse of the word “unprecedented” is to be deplored.

Today I illustrate with a little help from Peter Mark Roget.

Hasn't the last six months been amazing?

Whilst you could not say that the bushfires which devastated Australia were without warning, the extent of the damage was unforeseen.

It was surprising that the Prime Minister chose to holiday in Hawaii at that time. Just as it was unusual not to appoint his deputy while he was away. How unaccountable was that?

Then came the shocking news...

April 25, 2020

Our schools should never have been closed.   

The expert advice was consistent about this.   

Officials of the teacher unions should hang their heads in shame.   

They could have worked cooperatively to create a safe work environment. Instead they chose to use their political clout to close the schools, throwing an extra burden on teachers and parents, and diminishing the educational outcomes of the students.

They acted against the best interests of their members, the students and the community. They compromised professional health advisors.

What has been missing in this debate...

April 20, 2020

Last Saturday, I experienced what it would be like living under authoritarian rule.

My friend and neighbour, Winston Smith (not his real name), and I have a walk in the park twice a week. We are both in our late seventies.

We circumnavigate the Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens, a walk of a little over 3 kilometres, and then chat over a coffee. Formerly, we used to frequent a coffee shop in Wellington Parade. Now, because of the coronavirus crisis, we buy a take-away café latte from Kere Kere near Captain Cook`s cottage and sit on a park bench, one and a half metres apart, in an idyllic spot near a p...

April 2, 2020

If the government pays citizens who are not working, and refunds businesses who employ people who have nothing to do, this is not transferring wealth. For no wealth has been created. So where is the money coming from? It is not coming from taxes. Our taxes have already been spent. In fact, our governments always spend more than they tax; that is what deficit budgets are. Just when we thought the government would balance the budget and produce a surplus, they are spending without limit. Money they don`t have. So where is it coming from?

Wealth derives from productive work. We specialize in what...

March 29, 2020

For the time being there are lots of things we cannot spend our money on. What will we do with the money we save?   

In response to the threat of mass contagion from the coronavirus, the government has closed many businesses.

They have exhorted us to keep our distance from each other. Where we do congregate, we are being asked to keep a metre and a half apart. For hygiene reasons, payment by credit card is preferred to cash. Visits to the elderly have been curtailed. Workers are being encouraged to work from home where possible.

Air travel is banned. Hotels, bars and restaurants are shut. C...

February 10, 2020

When the Auditor General released a scathing report on the allocation of $100million in sports grants, we all understood that funds had been allocated to advantage political interests.

The problem is not new, and its extent is staggering. Over $6.8billion is provided annually by the government in the form of grants. So many grants. So many opportunities for corruption. A cynic might think that grants are devised primarily to create a mechanism for local members to ingratiate themselves with their electorate.

What fools we are!  Our politicians are using our money to buy our votes. 

Whil...

October 17, 2019

Is it possible to create prosperity by printing money?   Have the Central Banks found the answer to the Philosopher's Stone?      

On Tuesday, 1st October 2019, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut the cash rate to 0.75% in order to stimulate the economy. Their objective was to reduce the unemployment rate to 4.5% and to increase wages.

Over dinner that night, my daughter Kate quizzed me and Frank about how that worked. It turns out that it is not as obvious as Dr. Lowe suggests.

Kate:

I see that the Reserve Bank has dropped the cash rate to 0.75%. What is the cash rate?

Fran...

September 11, 2019

To what extent should an employer be able to control the pubic expression of their staffs' political and religious beliefs?  What are the responsibilities of employees to uphold the values of their employer?

 I walked into Kate’s bedroom yesterday to find a new poster on her wall - a handsome young man in a blue tee-shirt and a tattooed right arm.

Later in the day, this led to a serious discussion about the rights of employers and employees.  It's a much more complex issue than it seems at first glance.

Kate:...

September 4, 2019

The other day I met my old friends Marcia and Ann for lunch at Babka in Brunswick Street. It was good to catch up again.

Babka is just a couple of blocks away from where Jack Irish’s mates reminisce about the Fitzroy Football Club. When Sasha Lewis and her partner Frieda sold Fitzsimons in Lonsdale Street in the late 80s, they paused briefly and then set up Babka.  Frieda has now retired, and Sasha runs it on her own. It has a cult following.

The menu has a Russian theme and the best bread in Melbourne is baked on the premises by Sasha’s son. There are no bookings and patrons wait in line for a...

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