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Category Archives: Public Policy

Austrians and Marxists are wrong about the state

In 1718, after admiring how orderly his recently conquered province of Livonia was, Peter the Great (r.1682-1725) commanded an enquiry into how this was so. The enquiry found that the Swedish crown had spent as much administering Livonia as Peter spent administering the entire rest of the Russian Empire. Peter promptly dismantled the provincial administration. In […]

First they came for the pagans and the queers

The upside of Mozilla’s purging of Brendan Eich is various folk are getting the point that penalising opinion and purging workplaces is so not a good idea. The downside is a lot of folk just don’t get the bigger issue. This piece, for example, First They Came For The Mormons, exemplifies the common notion that “this” started with […]

The solution to the problem of outcasting is not more outcasting

So, the new (since March) CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich made a $1000 private donation in 2008 to the Proposition 8 cause. So, he is–or at least was in 2008–against equal protection of the law for (some) of his fellow citizens. A somewhat problematic proposition; one of a series of such propositions with a long […]

That honour thing

The last vestige in Anglosphere criminal law of the use of violence in defence of one’s honour is the provocation defence. It is only a defence in mitigation, not exculpation, but it harks back to the historical role of honour as a social control mechanism. The most recent controversy has been in NSW, where Yassir Hassan […]

The Russian conundrum

Bryan Caplan thinks there should be more analytical humility: in particular, that none of us know the best way to deal with Russia. Part of the difficulty is trying to work out Putin’s intentions. According to someone who spent some years as his major economic advisor, they are to take what he can get away with (via). (Which is not […]

The scope of moral concern

What Americans call “the culture wars” operate around different presumptions about human nature, social action and the scope of moral concern. Presumptions economist Thomas Sowell divided into conflicting visions; the constrained or tragic vision of human nature versus the unconstrained or utopian vision of human nature. The former sees human nature as a constraint, the latter […]

A pathology parading as a polity

What does it say about a country that it is forced to have its “home” cricket tests in another country? For the purposes of test cricket, Pakistan holds its “home” tests in the United Arab Emirates because Pakistan itself is deemed too dangerous. A problem with violence What does it say about a country that a […]

The joy of a peaceful society

On Wednesday evening, I was in the Melbourne CBD, coming from a regular (second Wednesday of the month) dinner-and-talk meeting. The talk had been on the Turks Head Club, a weekly dinner group that originally met at the Turks Head Tavern in Gertrude St, Soho, organised by friends of, and centred around, Dr Samuel Johnson. The dining […]

Historical analogies

The crisis in the Crimea has folk reaching for their historical analogies. Taking the most directly resonant one, the original Crimean War (1853-1856) was about blocking Russian ambitions towards the decaying Ottoman Empire, which then controlled most of the Middle East. The Russo-Turkish interaction had huge strategic implications. Russia-Ukraine, not so much. The Appeasement analogy Then we come to […]

That word, it does not mean what you think it means

In US states such as Kansas, Idaho and Arizona a new legislative push is on to create a religious entitlement to treat (a specific group of) fellow American citizens like crap. What’s more, it is being paraded as a defence of religious liberty. The process kicked off in Kansas, where the lower House passed House Bill […]