THE VALUE OF FREEING IDEAS, NOT JUST LOCKING THEM UP
The Economist, 8 November 2019
Back in the 1960s, Bob Kearns was an engineer working and lecturing in Detroit. Due to an unfortunate wedding night accident involving a champagne cork, he was legally blind in his left eye. When driving in a Michigan rainstorm, Kearns lamented the inability of his wipers to help him see better. In those days, windshield wipers had two settings—fast and slow—and they were always moving. Kearns’s notion was that it should be possible to have a slower setting, in which the wipers paused briefly between each wipe.
Motivated by his own experience, as well as a long-standing desire to work for a big car company like Ford, Kearns spent years working out a way to make wipers pause. His solution relied on electronics—an unusual and innovative thing in those days. He fitted the mechanism to his own Ford Galaxie with most of the contraption inside a black box and drove it down to Ford to show its engineers. They pored over the car and were impressed. Kearns was then given the details of tests he would need to perform to become a Ford supplier. Those took months of work that Kearns completed in his basement. Ford, however, passed on him being a supplier, though the firm did employ Kearns for a brief period. In the meantime, Kearns filed for a patent on his invention.Read more
THE SCIENCE OF SESAME STREET
New York Daily News, 8 November 2019
Oscar the Grouch gives children permission to feel sad. Big Bird questions everything. Mr. Snuffleupagus is the imaginary friend. Count von Count loves mathematics. Grover embodies self-confidence. Ernie delights in practical jokes. Bert has an utterly different personality to Ernie, but is his best friend nonetheless. Zoe proves that girls can be both dainty and strong. Kermit the Frog is always a gentleman.
Nov. 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the moment when “Sesame Street” first aired on television. But it’s not just a day for nostalgia; it’s also a time when we should recall what a remarkable venture the show is, and the extent to which it is grounded in careful science and hard data.
LAUNCH OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR INTERDISCIPLINARY META-RESEARCH AND OPEN SCIENCE
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
We often think of the era of William Shakespeare and the era of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as being the same. But in fact, the beliefs of educated people in those two eras were very different. The average educated person in the early 1600s believed in unicorns. They believed in werewolves. They believed that the sun rotated around the Earth. The average educated person in the 1600s believed that when a murderer approached the body, it would begin to bleed. Those people believe that witches actually existed, and they believed in alchemy. Alchemy was one of the most popular beliefs of the age. Indeed, Isaac Newton spent more time studying alchemy than he did during doing physics. Keynes once said of Newton that he wasn't the first of the scientists, he was the last of the magicians. It makes you wonder what other inventions Newton could have come up with had he spent a little bit less time on alchemy.Read more
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECT: Labor campaign review.
LEON DELANEY: As you know, Labor today released its self-examination of what went so horribly wrong at the May election. The report was prepared by Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill. It's a 92 page review. It's made 60 findings and 26 recommendations. In short, it says that Labor quote ‘lost the election because of a weak strategy that could not adapt to the change in the Liberal leadership, a cluttered policy agenda looked risky and an unpopular leader’. Joining me now is the Federal Member for Fenner and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh. Good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Leon. How are you?
DELANEY: Really well. How are you today.
LEIGH: Terrifically well.
DELANEY: Do you agree with the findings of this report?
LEIGH: Yes, I do. I think it's a hard hitting but important review, and one that talks about the importance of getting your digital strategy right, of making sure there's policy coherence and ensuring that we are focused in our message. We were very keen to solve as many of Australia's problems as we could, but in so doing - in pulling together the broadest policy agenda that Labor's taking for an election in my lifetime - I think we didn't carry that core message that a great campaign needs. And the review talks about some of those challenges.Read more
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor campaign review; Innovation + Equality.
ANNA VIDOT: To talk through some of these tea leaves and entrails, Andrew Leigh is on the line, the Labor MP for Fenner. Andrew Leigh, good evening.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good evening, Anna. How are you?
VIDOT: I’m well. This review's pretty blunt, that while there were a range of factors Labor was in many ways responsible for its own demise in 2019, that an adaptable campaign with a strong strategy would have won, the review says. I can't imagine this was an easy thing to read.
LEIGH: That’s right and not just for me, but also for the thousands of volunteers, trade union members, for the people who knocked on doors and made telephone calls, who worked their guts out for the progressive change that we hoped to be able to deliver on May the 18th. I think for those people, we owe it to go into a deep review and to release that publicly today, so everybody can read all about the campaign, warts and all. It does reflect the fact that we looked to solve many challenges - from the challenge of climate change to housing affordability, school fairness and access to medicines. In doing so, we thought we would be building trust with the Australian people by laying out a detailed agenda. Instead we left ourselves open to a scare campaign.Read more
ABC RN BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019
Subjects: Big banks appearing before the House Economics Committee tomorrow; Labor campaign review; Innovation + Equality.
HAMISH MACDONALD: The chiefs of Australia's biggest banks will be back in Canberra tomorrow for their twice yearly parliamentary grilling as they face pressure for not passing on the Reserve Bank's latest rate cut in full. The former Turnbull Government launched the hearings three years ago while fending off calls for a banking royal commission. The hearings have now been expanded in the wake of the Hayne Commission, and this time around it also examined the superannuation sector as well as smaller banks. Andrew Leigh is deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Economics. Welcome to Breakfast.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Thanks Hamish, great to be with you.
MACDONALD: We've had a royal commission. There's an ACCC inquiry into mortgage practices. So what will you be interrogating the chiefs of Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank about tomorrow?
LEIGH: At the heart of the Hayne Royal Commission was the notion that greed and short term profit had been put ahead of basic standards of honesty. The Hayne Royal Commission called not just for tweaks in procedure, but for deep cultural change in our biggest banks. So I’ll be asking the big banks how they're going about implementing those significant changes, how they're going about ensuring that customers are placed first and that there will never again be the sorts of scandals that we've seen.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: The Morrison Government failing to manage the economy; the Morrison Government failing to step up on the world stage; Labor election review.
LAURA JAYES: Let’s go live now to the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh. He joins me now from Sydney this morning. Andrew Leigh, thanks so much for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Laura.
JAYES: First of all, the RBA is meeting once again today to consider a rate cut, if another one is needed. What’s your tip on what decision they’ll make?
LEIGH: The markets have the Reserve Bank keeping rates on hold, but regardless of whether they cut by another 25 basis points or keep constant at 0.75 per cent, the RBA is running out of monetary policy firepower. We know that there's limited impact that quantitative easing could have, and so really the question is: will the Morrison Government step up and do with fiscal policy what the Reserve Bank can't do with monetary policy? We need structural reform. We need fiscal policy, and we need it now more than ever, given that we've had the worst retail sales numbers in a generation coming out yesterday. On a per person basis, the economy shrank over the last fiscal year. We've got unemployment a percentage point higher than in Britain or New Zealand or the United States. And we've got problems with wage growth being in the doldrums, which is really at the heart of the retail sales problem.Read more
HONOURING THE BICENTENARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE BAB, CO-FOUNDER OF THE BAHA’I FAITH
CANBERRA, 3 NOVEMBER 2019
It's an honour to be here today, on the lands of the Ngunnawal people. I pay my respects to elders past and present.
The Bab is to the Baha’i faith as Jesus is to Christianity - a leading figure whose life was cut short in his 30s, but whose teachings live on in the world today. At this moment in history it couldn't be more appropriate to be celebrating the Bab, for three reasons.
The first is the emphasis on inclusion in a world in which exclusion is becoming all too common, in a world in which people are being split into communities and there are too many of us seeking to divide us. His teachings resonated broadly. As Leo Tolstoy observed ‘I therefore sympathise with Babiism with all my heart in as much as it teaches people brotherhood and equality and sacrifice of material life for service to God.’Read more
My new book with Joshua Gans is titled Innovation + Equality: How to Create a Future That Is More Star Trek Than Terminator. Published by MIT Press, with a foreword by Larry Summers, we make the case that pursuing innovation does not mean giving up on equality – precisely the opposite. In this book, we outline ways that society can become both more entrepreneurial and more egalitarian.
I'd love it if you could join the conversation at one of our three scheduled book launches. Click the links for details and to RSVP:
All launches will kick off at 6pm. Innovation + Equality is available on Amazon now. If you have a moment, please post a review - it really helps others find the book.
FRYDENBERG IS PLAYING A JAUNTY TUNE ON PICASSO'S VIOLIN
The Canberra Times, 30 October 2019
‘I found a Picasso and a Stradivarius in my attic’, goes the joke. ‘Alas, Stradivarius couldn’t paint, and Picasso made terrible violins’.
The Morrison Government has a similar problem. When it comes to economic growth, what matters to households are their living standards: how incomes are growing on a per-person basis. When it comes to carbon emissions, the big question is how Australia is impacting the planet. So it’s total emissions that count.
But that’s not what the Coalition has been spruiking. When discussing the economy, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg points to ‘28 years of uninterrupted economic growth’ as proof of the economy’s resilience. What he won’t admit is that on a per-person basis, Australia’s gross domestic product (the sum of the economy’s output) shrank over the past year. The nation has been through a ‘per-capita recession’.Read more