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Monday Message Board

August 9th, 2010

It’s time again, once again, for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. TerjeP
  2. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 21:00 | #2

    This is not red-tape going mad.

    Everyone agrees that food outlets, even lemonade stands, need to be safe if offered to the public.

    The inanity in this example is the $120 fee. This is based on a combination of causes: capitalist user-pays fees, and cuts to local government funding leading to social inijustice in alternative revenue streams.

    This is where the madness lies – capitalist anti-tax political campaigns. If capitalists paid fair taxation, then amateur lemonade stall licence fees could be zero.

    If the fee was zero, there is no reasonable objection to a licence.

  3. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 21:51 | #3

    Kissing also needs to be safe but we don’t require participants to get a license. It seems exchanging bodily fluids is something we can sort out as individuals but swapping lemon juice for currency can’t be done safely without government involvement.

    Even if the fee was zero it is still a stupid idea to require licenses for lemonade stands.

  4. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 21:56 | #4

    @TerjeP
    Actually Terje – since the whole ethos came in of making the public sector “”"profitable”"” its not just licenses on lemonade stands that is a pain in the neck. Its not red tape gone mad – its making profit centres out of public services that is the madness….

  5. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 22:25 | #5

    If a capitalist started hiring poverty stricken uni students to exchange bodily fluids for cash, then I would expect this to be licenced by public health authorities and subject to health standards.

    Kissing in private is irrelevant.

  6. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 22:34 | #6

    @Alice
    do you object to any of these:

    1. car registration fees
    2. driver’s licence fees
    3. tolls for new highways
    4. company registration fees

  7. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:03 | #7

    Alice – my kids have sold lemonade. Irrespective of whether it is free or not are you seriously of the view that they should have had to acquire a government issued license before engaging in this enterprise? Can it really be that serious people wish to so burden the enterprising spirit of our youth all in the name of a false obsession with safety? Please I know that you like sparing with the likes of me on such issues but in all seriousness is this the level of control you want governments to exert over our lives?

  8. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:42 | #8

    @TerjeP

    Of course if they sell it to members of the public – in a modern society, the public would want assurance that some standards apply.

    The licence can be given gratis.

  9. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:46 | #9

    Chris – well as a member of the public who has bought lemonade from many kids (some who I knew, some who I didn’t) I don’t want it. The whole notion is utterly ridiculous and symptomatic of government gone mad.

  10. Jim Birch
    August 10th, 2010 at 13:10 | #10

    @TerjeP
    Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? You can comb the corners of the world for your dose of recreational outrage.

    It somehow seems obvious to me that considering the sum of outcomes would nearly always produce a better result than hunting down an instance that gives you an emotional kick, but who really knows? If you don’t make it into parliament maybe you should consider a career as a shock jock. You’ve ably demonstrated a fundamental aptitude on some occasions, especially in domain of comestibles.

  11. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 14:33 | #11

    Jim – I’m more outraged by the reaction of others than the issue itself. Across the globe there are certainly worse examples of authoritarian government. However it is a bit outrageous that some commenters here think kids should need to apply for a license before selling lemonade. We encountered this stupidity closer to home with my kids playing soccer. They banned sliced oranges at half time (supplied by a different parent each week) because somebody might catch some germs. Instead we had to hand out packaged lollies.

    So what is the sum of outcomes that justifies such stupid interventions?

  12. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 10th, 2010 at 15:53 | #12

    For those interested in the latest news, both the Greens and Labor have attacked the Coalition’s $6 billion broadband policy launched today on grounds it offers very little, and many would agree with Conroy that the policy is “a blast from the past” where the previous Coalition government targeted a wireless rollout through its doomed OPEL plan. That is correct doomed OPEL plan. Drongos.

  13. Jim Birch
    August 10th, 2010 at 17:46 | #13

    Sum of outcomes:

    Food poisoning and other food-borne disease cause significant harm, up to and including death. Mead et al “estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.” This is a genuine medical concern not just some trendy latte hooha. In Australia, policing of commercial food production is fairly strident and food poisoning rates are lower than most places, including the US, I believe. Sorry, can’t find the reference I was looking for, but there appears to be a reasonably good (negative) correlation between policing of commercial food production standards and food poisoning rates.

    YMMV, but I’d rate multiple deaths as a significantly worse outcome than kids not being allowed to sell home-made lemonade, if it comes to the crunch. Ideally, perhaps we might have thick law books that have clauses for kids lemonade, soccer oranges, and so on, but aren’t they just the type of laws you guys hate?

  14. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 19:15 | #14

    @Jim Birch

    Of course kids should be able to sell lemonade (and other food-stall items such as toffee-apples and lamingtons, provided they receive some guidance on how to do it safely.

    A free, cheap, or means-tested licencing system is the best long-term way of securing this. Most community groups organising sausage-sizzles have no problem with this, even when their kids are involved.

    I personally would want more food inspections in New South Wales, as cases of food poisoning are not reportable and I have seen news reports of atrocious food handling events.

    TerjeP’s crazy anarchism could open the floodgates to substantial risk to the public.

    But there are other licences I would want restricted – for instance using Beatles tunes, solar technology, the “Happy Birthday” tune, etc.

    Then there are licences I would want doubled – 8 cyclinder petrol cars, a licence for purchase of cigarettes, etc.

  15. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 19:53 | #15

    @TerjeP
    Terje – do you object to now desperate State Govts sticking up cameras willy nilly to impose speeding fines at 42k per hour and roving speed cameras with the public getting more heated my this by the day?

    Id rather pay higher taxes than have this inconvenience. Id rather more police on the road than a sly camera every 5 kilometres….plus fines are a lumpy inequaitable way for governments to raise income.

    But people like you want lower taxes and a profit seeking government. People like me want cameras off the road. People like me want to pay higher taxes and less tolls and speeding fines.

    You cant have your cake and eat it too Terje which is what people like you want. So pay the license for your kids lemonade stand or pay higher taxes so you dont need a license or a profit seeking government.

    Make up your mind which you want?…just stop the incessant whinging about government -the conservatives wanted Govt lean and mean and privatised and now complain because its mean.

    By the way – I think its Macquarie Bank that wants to invest in more speed cameras – here, there and across the globe. Do you want Macbanks cameras and more fines or more state police?

    Frankly I suspect more police would be cheaper by the time Macbank is through with you.

  16. 2 tanners
    August 10th, 2010 at 20:10 | #16

    Food licensing: I hate to be on Terje’s side[fn1], but as far as I am aware most food poisoning cases come from licensed food producers, not kids selling lemonade or sausage sizzles (exception to the latter: where the licensed butcher made unsafe smallgoods). There is really a great deal of difficulty in producing unsafe lemonade.

    Personal rant: I have become acquainted with my Greens candidate. Social skills of an autistic vole, arrogance of Wilde, wit of Tom o’ Bedlam and the prospect of this person representing me was like the concept of Dan Quayle being US President. Most disappointingly, I had rather smugly thought the candidate was going to be OK (or in fact more than OK).

    [1]but only because he’s usually so OTT that a basically sound point becomes the opposite. No offence.

  17. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 20:14 | #17

    @Alice
    I am all for the heavier punishment of speeding and drink drivers too!

    Norway has the strictest drink driving laws in Europe. The maximum blood alcohol content is equal to a small glass of a weak drink and heavy punishments with few second chances. Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by at least 1 day in jail, a heavy fine and the loss of the driver’s license for a year.

    If you do not want to pay the speeding fines, do not speed. is that too much to ask?

    You have no right to drive if you are unwilling to be a responsible, sober and safe driver.

    do you agree with speed limits? how do you ensure compliance?

  18. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 20:28 | #18

    @Jim Rose
    I dont agree with the way the State govt is using speed cameras to top up their income in the absece of taxes since many taxes were shifted to the realm of the Commonwealth and the State finds itself broke (having made stupid decisions to privatise income generating assets like lotteries in the interests of neo liberal foolishness).

    its called vertical fiscal imbalance. In Australia now extreme. As I said in the above post Id rather more police on the roads and less than this bloatant revenue grab (which is lumpy and inequitable) of cameras…and who know what Macbanks interest is/

    Read my post properly JR and dont feign ignorance with me. Of course I agree with speed limits. I dont agree with revenue raising cameras, lasers or other digital mechanisms to catch people doing 1 k over the limit on every corner of every street (which is where this is going).

    Plus its an imposition to even fill out the forms, appear in court (court congestion costs must be huge, lost work time etc, adminstrative paper work bungling time to pay the fine).

    ‘The admin costs of your desire for lower taxes are costing us all more.

    Buy lotteries back,create some employment with real police (hey add to income) and stop deluging the population with invoices.

  19. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 20:37 | #19

    @TerjeP
    Terje asks re the stupidity of govts wanting license fees for kids lemonade stands

    “So what is the sum of outcomes that justifies such stupid interventions?”

    the sum that justifies such stupid interventions is neoliberalism (conservatism) that wanted governments to be profitable – so they now charge to protect you against food poisoning.
    They make money out of licenses and permits across the entire spectrum.

    You wanted a profitable givernment didnt you Terje? Or did you also want a benevolent government that overlooked children selling lemonade…but hang on – didnt we give the right to private firms to sue governments for loss of business?

    Tell the lemonade selling kid to go see a solicitor for loss of business through government intervention.. and stop complaining Terje. This is the privatised world. Dont even expect the givernment to do anything for free. Its user pays all the way.

    Didnt you want it that way?

  20. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 21:30 | #20

    @Alice
    There is no such thing as a revenue raising camera because the driver must be speeding to get a ticket. They deserve to be ticketed because they are speeding.

    Speed cameras are cheaper and far easier to conceal that having police cars on the beat and plain to all. Speed cameras create a general deterrent and generalised fear of being caught. Remember those cars flashing lights to others to warn of police speed traps.

    I suppose you want to have fewer revenue raising parking meters and more parking wardens marking car tyres to see if they have stayed to long.

  21. Donald Oats
    August 11th, 2010 at 10:38 | #21

    @Jim Rose
    Hmm, on this I agree with you, Jim. Revenue is raised if you speed. Since the driver is responsible for knowing a) the road rules; and, b) their speed of travel, it follows that the driver is ultimately responsible for any transgression. Pay the bill and remember the lesson.

    If the vast majority of people did not speed then as a behaviour it would probably be treated as unacceptable by other drivers. When I was a poorly P-plater it used to irk me no end that other cars would speed 10-20km/h over the limit, until they jammed up my tailpipe; typically at that point they show “frustration behaviour”, ie. they shift out to the right side of the lane to show how they are looking for a chance to overtake, and then pull back in fast – spin, repeat… It is very intimidating behaviour by other drivers, and I can imagine a younger P-plater, than I was, feeling compelled to increase their own speed as a result of the “frustration behaviour”. Of course, the correct behaviour is not to speed, and not to tailgate and whip from side to side as though looking for a gap to get past the slow – on the speed limit – P-plater! This thuggish behaviour is how P-platers learn that it is not socially acceptable to stick to the speed limit; once the lesson is learned they too become part of the problem. I guess it all depends upon a person’s penchant for accepting the umpire’s decision as to what is lawful and what is not.

  22. Alice
    August 11th, 2010 at 10:52 | #22

    @Donald Oats
    Don – there is an exquisite joy slowing down to grandma speed (40 or less) with a tailgater behind on a single lane road….even if the road turns into two lanes…by careful positioning you can drive them as crazy as they drive you.!!

  23. Jim Rose
    August 11th, 2010 at 11:59 | #23

    @Donald Oats
    thanks.

    social attitudes on drink driving also changed a lot over the last 30 years. allowed for much stronger criminal penalties to be passed and handed out.

    on the speed limit for p-platers, all the transport economists I know talk about how how speed limit differentials in traffic flows are dangerous. If a differential speed limit is applied, traffic congestion is likely to occur.

    trucks with a lower speed limit are a danger. why are p-plates any different?

  24. Graeme Bird
    August 11th, 2010 at 15:01 | #24

    I want to propose a different approach to infrastructure development. Partly because there is nothing I hate more than public-private partnerships. I wanted to at first look into rules-based free enterprise approaches, with pseudo (non-freehold) property rights. I still think this approach has merit. But its a bridge too far for the infrastructural problems we face in the near term.

    I think we ought to have a socialist model for the time being, like your old departments of public works. But the trick would be for the project managers and schedulers to be able to outsource to sole traders only. And to hire sole traders wherein neither the sole trader nor his workers had to pay tax on the money they got from the project.

    I would suggest it ought to be all paid out of the surplus. And that while there might be a much greater level of infrastructure spending then before, that we ought take a much more patient approach to individual projects, in order to try and keep costs down.

    So what would happen, is that knowing that these projects would be ongoing things, each sole trader would be incentivized to plough his earnings back into capital accumulation and training more people. The capital accumulation and the number of subcontractors would help bring costs down during the project. So instead of getting the NBN done in 8 years for 44 billion dollars, and this money coming with these huge ugly private debts and the associated restrictions that this imply ….. the spending costs would be much much less, although the roll-out time would be a lot longer. The project managers and schedulers would have an open door policy but they would be trying to bring costs down all the time even if the bargaining process to do so slowed down the speed of the roll-out.

    We want to get rid of these deep pocket bidding processes, where these giant firms have a hold over the project and the governments just back the truck up and cover these people with cash. This way of going about things would not wind up creating this situation where CEO’s are paying themselves $5000 an hour on the public dime.

  25. August 11th, 2010 at 18:17 | #25

    Sorry if I am off-topic here, but word is that this Site has more than 100.000 visitors per day.
    How is this possible?? I dont believe it for a second! What do you think?

  26. Graeme Bird
    August 12th, 2010 at 22:28 | #26

    I believe it. Since I disagree with a lot of what the Professor says and agree (punching the air) stridently with some of what he says … but the point is, agree or disagree, we all look to what is said here.

  27. Jim Rose
    August 13th, 2010 at 16:41 | #27

    @Alice
    I found an interesting link by chance on the effects of speed cameras including an experiment where a local UK council switched them off, but secretly left two on to see if drivers speeded, and they did, 18% more speeded

    see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/motoring/news/article.cfm?c_id=9&objectid=10665576

    a UK report examined thousands of cameras installed across England and Wales between 2000 and 2004.

    It monitored sites before and after cameras were installed and showed that the cameras brought about a 70 per cent reduction in speeding. The report also said that fatal accidents were reduced by 42 per cent, and that serious injuries fell by 22 per cent.

  28. Alice
    August 13th, 2010 at 18:38 | #28

    @Jim Rose
    How much of a nanny state do you want JR? For a non interventionist – Im amazed you like speed cameras at all (in preference to police?). Either way – isnt it the sort of heavy hand of government freedom fighter such as your self dont like – yet a pole and camera is OK but a policeman is not? Arent they both government intervention?

    So why do you not mind speed cameras JR?

  29. August 13th, 2010 at 18:54 | #29

    @Alice

    As I’ve said before, personally, I’d like in car devices that could inter alia warn you when you exceeded a speed limit and give you two-to-three seconds to conform and failing that, fine you for the breach. Perhaps you’d get only one warning per 1000ks or something like that. If you went more than 15ks over, the car could progressively shut down over 1 km ….

  30. Jim Rose
    August 13th, 2010 at 19:07 | #30

    @Fran Barlow
    Buy a GPS.

    the speed meter at the bottom centre of my GPS goes red as soon as I exceed the speed limit for that stretch of road. If I played with the GPS options, I might work out how to turn on the warning bell that sounds if the car goes over the speed limit.

    many new cars have those preset speed controls that allow you to ensure you do not go over the limit.

  31. Jim Rose
    August 13th, 2010 at 19:11 | #31

    @Alice
    another leftist strawman. speed limits on roads as regulation.

    what strawman next – drink-driving laws, the criminal code, the common law, property law, contract law?

  32. Alice
    August 13th, 2010 at 19:13 | #32

    @Jim Rose
    Arent they all your strawmen JR?

  33. Alice
    August 13th, 2010 at 19:21 | #33

    @Jim Rose
    Actually JR – I use the example of speed Cameras to point out the hypocrisy of the far right. They dont want government intervention in markets yet they dont mind the government putting up speed cameras willy nilly.

    In the same way they dont want government intervention but they want the government to “turn the boats back.

    In the same way the right doesnt want government intervention but they want a big government funded defence force and they are the first to want to go to wars.

    The right doesnt want government intervention but they want the government to police borders.

    It seems to me the right want to pick and choose their ideologies to suit themselves for different occasions (like dressing differently for day or evening) but they really dont know what they want at all.

    The right are hypocrites of the first order JR. You just cant believe a word they say (which might be why so many of them are denialists on so many things). The conservatives just play to the crowd in the interests of getting their hands on the reigns of power (for whom the rest of us may well be better of asking??)

  34. Jim Rose
    August 13th, 2010 at 19:47 | #34

    @Alice
    where is the market for speeding? show me!?

    who buys? who sells? what do they trade? what property rights are exchanged and for what price? these features define a market. are roads common property?

    do speeders own the road and can exclude others as owners can or do they require permission to use it from the owner and they must honour the conditions of use?

    I advocate a non-discriminatory democracy.

  35. Alice
    August 13th, 2010 at 20:05 | #35

    @Jim Rose
    So you want the speed cameras and the police when there is no market JR. Well who will pay for market failure? Isnt that the government (ie us?).

    I think Ive got you there Jim Rose. Isnt it the right that doesnt believe in market failure (that the market never fails)??? Well you seem to think the market doesnt take care of speeders…so you want the government to do it…whether its with cameras or policeman? Isnt that market failure?

    Are you saying you need a government, want a government or is it just that you dont want to pay for one?

    A true beleiver in markets Jim Rose (like lots of conservatives pretend to be) would just say – well if people speed they die, c’est la vie – that would take care of speeding and speeders. So why are you in favour of speed cameras?

    Dont tell me you actually subscribe to a little government organised civility?

  36. Jim Rose
    August 13th, 2010 at 20:29 | #36

    @Alice
    as you are aware, there is a large literature on the economics of law, on constitutional poltical economy and how markets must work within a framework of law.

    as I advocate equality under laws, I must believe in law.

    posner, hayek buchanan and others have all written extensively on legal and constitutional frameworks for the market.

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