Market failure?

Oh dear. The Australian Energy Market Operator has suspended the market. The Operator says the market was “impossible to operate”. Does this constitute a market failure? It’s definitely a failure of something.


I say it’s not a market failure. That’s because it’s not a real market. The authoritarian left often decries market failure as reason for Government intervention in all manner of ways. Well, here’s an example of a highly restricted and distorted pseudo market failure right in front of our eyes at a time when the energy supply is tottering on the verge of blackouts.

The reason for this failure is precisely due to years of Government intervention, mismanagement and lies. Goodness knows what happens from here, but mark June 2022 as the month in which the creaking facade masquerading as an energy system in Australia crumbled.

Unlimited #vacation leave policy – a pricing error

It sounds like a good thing – unlimited holiday time, still meeting budget, making bonuses. Here’s a recent piece on the topic. It might work for some, perhaps not others.

It will be clear if it isn’t working. Customers will suffer, other colleagues will complain about being overworked to make good the leave, budgets will not be met. It will be a shambles, obvious very early on. Continue reading

The French, Italians, English and Austrians knew it. Why not the Australians?

The French are credited with saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The phrase is less elegant when expressed in English.  Perhaps the most frequently quoted line of Guiseppe di Lampedusa’s novel ‘The Leopard’ is the Prince’s acceptance that ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.’ George Orwell wrote, in his essay ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’, of England having ‘the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.’ Friedrich Hayek wrote of ‘the fatal conceit’ of those people who believe that central control and planning of a country’s economic output is possible, and even desirable. These are only a handful of examples of a history of observation and understanding of the challenges in achieving meaningful change in a society. Change is endless, although superficial unless the emotions of the people change. Continue reading

The rise and rise of risk aversion

Writing in 1896, Norwood Young opined in the Badminton Magazine that:

“A great change is gradually coming over the world. Adventure, sport, enterprise, are giving way to caution and the calculation of averages. Men do not take the risks they used to. The modern man is surrounded by police constables, sanitary inspectors, and insurance agents.”

Granted, the Badminton Magazine, with full title ‘The Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes’ was a journal that covered in full detail the adventures of the day, with detailed articles on sports such as cricket, football and rowing, but also shooting, motor racing and cycling. It was both a manual and celebration of adventure. Norwood was clearly miffed that the sporting attitude and  let’s have a go mentality was on the wane. He may have been premature – he wrote this before Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen et al set off on foot in their various adventures to find the South Magnetic Pole.

Fast forward to 2014 and listen to the character Cooper in the film Interstellar complaining that “It’s like we’ve forgotten who we are – explorers and pioneers, not caretakers.”

More than 100 years passed between the writing of the essay in the Badminton Magazine and the writing of the Interstellar screenplay. Yet both spring from the same yearning, the same perception, the same disappointment.  It is too easy to dismiss these views as the misconceived grumblings of individuals who never grew up and never moved on from boyhood adventure games and fantasy. Great adventures are still planned and undertaken today but society makes it much harder for those individuals than ever before. It is inconceivable that anyone would set off today on the equivalent of a South Pole exploration so ill-equipped as were Scott and his team. ‘The authorities’ would not permit it. When young sailors plotted a trans-ocean adventure 50 years ago, the media didn’t know about the trip until after it was completed, as was the case for Robin Lee Graham. Today, in some cases courts of law intervene to ban the planned trip, as in the case of Laura Dekker. In others, community anger and backlash against the trips can be feral, as was the case with Jessica Watson. Continue reading