This week I've been launching my new book 'The Economics of Just About Everything' with a series of public lectures around Australia. Here's the text from the Canberra launch, which was generously hosted by my old colleagues at the Australian National University:
WHAT DO DATING, DIETING AND SPORTS STATISTICS HAVE IN COMMON?
LAUNCH OF 'THE ECONOMICS OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING'
ANU, CANBERRA, 29 JULY
Can I of course acknowledge that we are meeting tonight on the land of the Ngunnawal people, and recognise their elders past and present. There are so many good friends present in the room tonight, but I wanted to particularly acknowledge Bob Gregory and Rabee Tourkey for putting this together, and Beth Lawton and her team for making tonight happen. It was an event whose boundaries continued to expand and I'm very grateful to all of them for allowing that.
This book, 'The Economics of Just About Everything' comes from being at ANU and having extraordinary colleagues. I see many of them here around me in the room today, and in some sense this is your book as much as mine because I had such interesting and productive collaborations with many of you.
As Bob said, the book is 'The Economics of Just About Everything', and when I mentioned this to my seven-year-old son, Sebastian, he said: 'Has it got dragons in it?' Sadly, I had to say: 'No, it doesn't have any economics of dragons.' And likewise, it doesn't have anything on the economics of Liberal Party leadership, or indeed on Labor Party leadership. But there are other contributions that you'll have the chance to read about.
This morning I talked with David Lipson and Alan Tudge about the Abbott Government's harsh new Work for the Dole requirements (and also snuck in a plug for my new book, The Economics of Just About Everything!). Here's the transcript:
E&OE TRANSCRIPTTELEVISION INTERVIEW
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 28 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: MH17; Work for the Dole; Joe Hockey’s unfair budget.
DAVID LIPSON: Joining me now to discuss the day’s issues, Alan Tudge from the Liberals and Andrew Leigh joining me here in the Canberra studio from the ALP. Thank you both for joining us. First you, Alan Tudge, on this mission in Ukraine - a reminder if any was needed of the dangers posed to those Australian Federal Police and others going to the site with this heavy shelling cancelling, or at least delaying, the operation.
ALAN TUDGE, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER: I think that’s right, David. I think the word though is delaying rather than cancelling. We have an absolute determination to ensure that the remains can be secured and identified and returned back to Australia. But we want to get in there, we had hoped to get in there last night our time and will be monitoring the situation very closely. When it is safe to do so the team led by the Netherlands, including Australian Federal Police, will be going in there to monitor the site, secure the remains and bring them home.
LIPSON: Andrew Leigh, the cooperation of the rebels is crucial to this mission, and as such, we've seen the Prime Minister appropriately temper his language towards them compared to the descriptions we used about a week ago. Are you satisfied that everything is being done to minimise the risk for our police and others?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Absolutely, David. This is fully supported by the opposition. I think Alan spoke well in speaking about the importance of securing the remains there. One of the victims was in my own electorate, a memorial service was held for her last week and it just brings home to me how important it is for all of those families to secure the victims’ remains and secure that crash site, absolutely vital.
This morning I spoke with Fairfax Media's Breaking Politics program about the government's harsh new Work for the Dole requirements and the inequality in Joe Hockey's budget. You can watch the full conversation here:
I recently sat down with Jonathan Pryke from the Development Policy Centre to talk about inequality and how developing countries can manage this important challenge as their economies grow. Here's a quick summary, but you can also listen to the full discussion here:
Inequality: should developing countries be worried? An interview with Andrew Leigh MP
by Jonathan Pryke and Andrew Leigh
I began by asking Andrew why he sees inequality as such an important issue:
I think inequality is a public good… I’ve always liked the John Rawls Veil of Ignorance way of thinking about this, where he asks you to imagine what sort of an income distribution you’d want if you were in utero and about to be born into a society where you didn’t know if you’d be born into the top 5th or the bottom 5th. Would you want the kind of Australia where the top 5th has 62% of the wealth and the bottom 5th has less than 1% of the wealth? If you knew that there was an equal probability of you ending up in either of those two quintiles, would you maybe want a more egalitarian distribution of income?
My latest opinion piece in The Australian looks at how increased diversity in our community can enrich Australians socially, culturally and economically. Here's the details:
Urgent case for a diverse nation, The Australian, 24 July 2014
PROGRESSIVES are often most comfortable making a political or moral case for diversity: that it is a necessary corollary of liberalism in a multi-ethnic society or, more optimistically, a social good in itself.
This is no longer enough. Our ideas must expand beyond platitudes about multiculturalism giving us good places to eat. We need to recognise the real economic and social benefits that flow from diversity and acknowledge the challenges so we can find ways to maintain cohesive societies in the face of these.
To see the positive impact of diversity, go to Silicon Valley. Half of all start-up teams include a first-generation migrant, from Russian-born Sergey Brin at Google to Hungarian-born Andy Grove at Intel.
Speech: Growth and diversity - how immigration creates opportunities and challenges for Australia and the United States
Overnight I gave a speech to the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, DC, exploring how the increasing diversity of our communities creates both opportunities and challenges for Australia and the USA. Here's the full text:
PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE
WASHINGTON DC, USA
WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY 2014
Thirteen years ago, in summer 2001, I worked as a fellow here at the Progressive Policy Institute. Here I was lucky enough to co‑author reports on digital government and the digital divide, attended stimulating seminars by resident and visiting experts, and even helped put on an ‘Aussie breakfast’ of bagels and vegemite.
I knew Americans tend to be pretty self-assured, but even so I was particularly struck by the confidence that the Progressive Policy Institute had a fresh idea to contribute to just about every policy conversation in this city – and you were right! Like a Gaul in Caesar’s Rome, I drank it all in.
Think-tanks play a vital role in our democracy. Located at the intersection of academia and politics, you help to make university research accessible, and forge new policy proposals based on the best available evidence.
The Progressive Policy Institute (with, at that time, the Democratic Leadership Council) has played a special role. After Democrats lost Presidential elections in 1984 and 1988, your organisations were crucial in reclaiming the notion that governments could lead from the ‘radical centre’.
You showed that a belief in tackling poverty and inequality could best be realised by a commitment to open markets, a culture that fostered entrepreneurship, a commitment to strong economic growth, and rigorous evaluation of social programs. You reminded progressives that values must come first.
This article on Australia's gun buyback program was syndicated by Zocalo, and appeared in various outlets, including Time magazine and the Huffington Post.
Dear NRA: My Country Is Proof That Reducing Guns Reduces Deaths
Sometimes a tragedy is so awful that it changes the national debate. The 1996 Dunblane school shooting in Scotland, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the 2011 Norwegian gun massacre all prompted an outpouring of anguish and a demand for changes in law.
In Australia, that moment was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist attraction in Tasmania. To put the size of the death toll into perspective, the United States population is 14 times larger than Australia, so the impact of the Port Arthur massacre on Australia would be like a U.S. shooting that cost more than 400 lives.
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