October 17, 2019

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?

Frank:

It is the rate that the Reserve Bank charges the banks for overnight loans.

It is the basis on which other interest rates are set. For instance, if the ra...

September 11, 2019

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 to constrain the activities and behaviour of their staff.

It's a much more complex issue than it seems at first glance.

Kate:                    

Isn’t he just divine?

Loretta:               

Who dear?

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...

August 30, 2019

I get on really well with my teenage daughter. She confides in me about everything – well almost everything.

I put it down to discipline when she was three. The other day we were having a chat about the recent spate of sexual harassment cases.

Kate:                    

Mum. What should I do if I am sexually harassed?

Loretta:               

Well it depends on what you mean by sexual harassment.

Kate:...

August 10, 2018

                       

Kenneth Haynes' enquiry into the finance industry has exposed troubling ethical behaviour among those we expected should know better.

But the problems are not confined to senior executives in large corporations. As my recent talks to Rotary clubs explained, this unethical behaviour is wide spread.

Here, in the text from those talks, I sheet home the blame to bad parenting and an adolescent unwillingness to take responsibility for our own actions.

The Decline of Civi...

February 21, 2018

I read Dennis Glover’s The Last Man in Europe. Then I read Orwell's 1984 again. Then I re-read The Last Man in Europe. I appreciated it more the second time. A recent reading of 1984 puts The Last Man in Europe in context. Glover has written a masterpiece. Whilst telling the story of Orwell’s life, he details the experiences that moulded his thoughts and refreshes the messages of 1984.

The Hate speeches come from his experience hearing Oswald Mosley address a political rally. The traitor, Goldstein, is created from something he noted during the Spanish Civil War – “Nin was liquidated altho...

December 18, 2017

The high turnout and overwhelmingly positive result of Australia’s voluntary postal plebiscite on same sex marriage enabled our parliament to enact marriage equality laws with public approval. The people had spoken, and the support was clearer than if politicians had made the decision alone.  The parliament erupted with joy when the legislation passed.

However, there were concerns about the impact of the SSM bill on religious freedom. These persist. Attempts to modify the SSM bill to protect freedom of speech and religious beliefs got little support and amendments to the bill were voted down. O...

December 1, 2017

John Gapper, in an opinion piece, in The Australian Financial Review on Friday, 1 December 2017, “Facebook’s fight for the common good”,quotes extensively from Garrett Hardin, whom he describes as an ecologist and philosopher.

Unfortunately, Hardin’s discredited theories are hardly a sound basis for developing an understanding of the problems of community standards facing Facebook.

In 1968, microbiologist Garrett Hardin, a University of California professor whose specialty was population control, wrote a paper in Science entitled The Tragedy of the Commons in which he argued that community owner...

November 2, 2017

In the spirit of the famous Harvester case, ACTU secretary Sally McManus is proposing an overhaul of the national minimum wage to better account for the reasonable needs of an average sized family. The ACTU wants a “living wage” that takes into account the cost of renting a two-bedroom flat in a working-class suburb of Sydney or Melbourne, the cost of providing a balanced diet for a family of four, the cost of running a car, as well as electricity, gas, and childcare, with a little over to be able to take the family out for a meal or to a footy match. The aim is to fix the minimum wage at 60%...

October 4, 2017

I have developed a seminar to explain libertarian philosophy to a lay audience. The course draws on the work of Locke, Smith, Mises, Hayek, Nozick, Rothbard, et al. and themes from my book The Fragility of Freedom.

Our wonderful, free and prosperous society is being threatened by ideologies, from within and without, that compromise the reasons for its success.

If we are to succeed in our battle with competing ideologies, then we need to acquire an appreciation of the legacy of our Western Civilization and be determined to live up to its ideals.

Libertarian philosophy is based on the concept...

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