mannkal, 10 February 2014
I have decided to spend my last weekend in Vancouver at Whistler Village skiing and enjoying the wintry weather. Southern British Columbia has been under a dreadful cold snap that has kept temperatures below freezing since last Saturday. It has been bitterly cold in the mountains, and I had the “pleasure” of experiencing what -35 degrees Celsius feels like. I spent the whole weekend going up and down Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on my skis; there’s nothing like the thrill of doing the entire run without any stops, from top to bottom. I am legitimately addicted to skiing and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to further refine my skills!
This week has been my last full week at the Fraser institute, and due to Monday the 10th being a public holiday I only have two days of work left. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by, and although it makes me sad to leave Vancouver I am looking forward to my time in Washington.
For my last week and a half at the Fraser Institute, I have been requested to review all research projects and papers I have prepared in the past month, as well as build on whatever I have written. Needless to say, this has been an incredible learning experience and I can’t thank everybody at Mannkal and at Fraser enough. The knowledge I have acquired is priceless and I can’t wait to apply it towards my final year at university.
The Fraser institute has released a study labelled “Government stimulus spending extended beyond the recession, resulting in deficits and debt”, which looks at Canada’s overspending on fiscal stimulus measures since 2008. The study highlights how such policies have raised the nation’s debt considerably and it addresses how harmful this can be for the health of the Canadian economy in the long run. Needless to say the study attracted considerable media attention.
This is my last entry from Vancouver; I am departing to Washington on the 13th of February. So from now on I have the hard task of saying my goodbyes to all the wonderful people I have met and all the friends I have made during my time here. I would like to say a special thank you to Mrs. Alana Wilson for being the best supervisor anyone could have asked for and for helping make this an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
mannkal, 10 February 2014
So another week has gone past and I can’t believe I’ve been in this great city for over a month already!
Last Sunday I decided to celebrate Australia day in Whistler, located a couple of hours from Vancouver. Whistler Village and ski resort are famous for their large Australian workforce; when questioned about Australia most Canadians will reply with something along the lines of “I have never been to Australia, but I have been to Whistler”; and I couldn’t agree more with them. The village was decorated with gold and green coloured balloons and there were Aussie flags everywhere. The runs and slopes were also decorated, but instead of flags and balloons they were full of crazy Aussies dressed in boardies and bikinis running amok downhill. What a day!
This week was also very eventful at the institute. The institute released a study labelled “Corporate income taxes—Who pays?”, which has, as usual, stirred an array of media reports following publication. On Friday I had the pleasure of attending an Outreach event held at the institute. Guest speaker Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute and senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, discussed how China’s population trends could cause its future economic growth to be considerably slower than currently predicted. It was a very informative lecture and a delightful afternoon. On Saturday I had the pleasure of helping the institute with a student seminar, Explore Public Policy Issues, held at the Renaissance hotel in Vancouver. At the seminar a variety of topics, ranging from Drug legalization to the exploration of primary resources, were explored. After each presentation attendees were divided into small discussion groups to share thoughts and debate on the topic. I had the chance of leading my own discussion group throughout the day, and conversing such exciting topics with a body of keen students with quite diverse points of view was an amazing learning experience.
So that is it from me for me, looking forward to my last full week at the institute now!
mannkal, 10 February 2014
So another week has gone by, and what a week it was! Time has been going by way too fast!
So this has been an exciting week at the Fraser Institute. They released two studies, namely “Canada’s Catch-22: The State of Canada-U.S. Relations in 2014” and “2013 Global Go To Think Tank Report”. Both of which are extremely interesting and can be found at www.fraserinstitute.org. Furthermore, The University of Pennsylvania survey has ranked the Fraser Institute as the #1 think tank in Canada out of 96 and their world ranking has gone from 25 to 22 out of 6826. There is no other Canadian think tank in the top 40 and they generated an astonishing 23,500 news stories on TV, radio, and in newspapers (up 30% from 2012) which is greater than all of the other top ten Canadian think tanks added together. The climate in the office was one of celebration and prestige. I can’t describe how exciting it is to be in the centre of such a highly regarded organisation!
The repercussions for the study the institute released last week (How minimum wages can negatively affect poor workers) are still ongoing, and several international newspapers such as Yahoo Business and Reuters have reported on the issue.
Last Sunday I had the privilege of spending my day in Whistler learning to Ski. Suffice to say, I have found my new passion. There is nothing like the thrill of going down a mountain with the cool winter breeze blowing at your face.
On Wednesday I decided to attend my very first ice hockey game between Vancouver’s home bread Giants against an American team called Tigers, and what an experience it was! The level of skill the players had was unbelievable; I didn’t quite imagine people could skate on ice so gracefully yet at amazing speed. The sport itself proved to be brutal and the amount of violence allowed in the game is incredible!
Vancouver Giants vs Tigers
I have received a new assignment for the upcoming week and I have two ski trips planned for the weekend. I cannot wait for the week to come!
mannkal, 10 February 2014
So my second week in Vancouver has come to a close, and what an exciting week it has been! Since I last wrote the Fraser institute has publicly released a new study on minimum wage laws that received a large amount of media attention. Dubbed “Living wage laws can hurt the most vulnerable workers” they have gathered empirical evidence that suggests raising minimum wages usually backfire and harm incomes, especially those of lower income brackets. Needless to say the study attracted significant media and attention. That made me realise the prestige this instate has not only within Canada but with economic organisations everywhere in the world. It is truly an honour to be part of such a team!
As usual I am not allowed to disclose any details about the projects I am working on or what has been happening inside the office, but this week we did the monthly literature review where we had the opportunity to revise some very interesting material on freedom of speech and the appropriate size of governments followed by a pleasant discussion that lasted a little over an hour.
During the week I went to a Panic at the Disco concert in Vancouver’s CBD. It was a great night and it was amazing to see them live, it’s a band I have been a huge fan of ever since I can remember.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Chinese Garden at Chinatown
On the weekend I visited Vancouver’s Chinatown and went to a couple of museums there. It was a very enriching experience and a great way to learn more about the history of British Columbia from a different perspective. I also visited one of Vancouver’s most famous tourist attractions, Capilano suspension bridge. It is located within a pristine national park, it was amazing to witness such a vibrant temperate rainforest so close to the city centre!
I have a ski trip to Whistler planned for tomorrow (Sunday) and an exciting week at work to look forward to next week!
mannkal, 13 January 2014
After a strenuous 45 hour trip I finally arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, my new home for the nest 6 weeks or so. On my way over I was lucky enough to get a 20-hour stop over in Ghonzhou in southern China. Having travelled to different parts of China three times in my life I thought I already knew what I was in for, and gosh how wrong I was. Although the city featured an amazingly vast and modern airport, the overall infrastructure right outside the doors was at the very least precarious. The roads were plagued with potholes, footpaths were virtually non-existent and part of the city seemed to lack continuous electricity provision. Guangzhou’s streets were a very different sight from the affluent city centre streets I experienced on my trips through Beijing, Shanghai and especially Hong Kong. Disparities like these are a great example of the wonders a market-oriented economy has provided to those Chinese “islands of prosperity”! There was a very significant language barrier as most of the city inhabitants, as well as most of the airport and hotel staff, knew very little English. Suffice to say my sign language skills improved a whole lot by the time I left China!
Kwakwaka'wakw Art at the Museum of Anthropology
By the time of writing this blog I have been in Vancouver for a little over a week, and I have loved every moment of it. I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of bright sunny days at the beginning of the week, and although the temperatures were hovering around freezing the bright sunshine made it perfect for exploring the neighbourhood where my accommodation is located. I am staying in a central suburb called Kitslano, right next to one of Vancouver’s most famous beaches, Kitslano beach. The neighbourhood is vibrant and beautiful. There are numerous parks, a few beaches and the streets are filled with all kinds of stores and restaurants. Anything I need is literally a 5-minute walk away!
My apartment is only a 10 minutes walk from the Fraser institute, one of Canada’s leading think tanks and the place where I have been fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to work for the next few weeks. The people at the office are remarkable, everyone is incredibly helpful and, as with most Canadians, most people seemed happy to go a bit out of their way to make me feel welcome and to give me a helping hand. My supervisor, Senior Economist Alana Wilson, is extraordinarily friendly and knowledgeable and I feel very fortunate for being able to work with her. While I would love to share with you the projects I have been developing and assisting Alana with, I signed a number of confidentiality agreements on my first day so there is very little else I can say right now!
I decided to stay in Vancouver for the weekend and do some sightseeing. On Saturday I visited the University of British Columbia, one of North America’s leading universities and home to many museums and art galleries. I spent most of my day at the museum of anthropology where I had the opportunity to learn more about American Indians and their diverse cultures. On Sunday, I spent my day exploring Vancouver’s Stanley Park, one of the world’s largest urban green areas. I had the chance to visit the Vancouver Aquarium and witness the beauty of Canada’s artic marine life.
So for the upcoming week I have a couple of new projects to get started on as well as a Panic at the Disco concert to look forward to. This is set to be one exciting week that I am really looking forward to!
mannkal, 19 February 2013
After having spent over a month and a half overseas on this fantastic opportunity travelling to Canada and America to expand my understanding of liberty, my trip has come to an end. What an opportunity I have had. I am so fortunate.
Before getting to America, first to my final week in Vancouver. On Tuesday night I invited all the people I had met in Vancouver for $1 taco and karaoke. It was a fabulous night out with the highlight being all of us getting on stage to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. On Wednesday night I went out for drinks with people from Fraser as a last hurrah in Vancouver. I then spent the remainder of the evening packing and preparing myself for my plane ride the next day to Washington DC. And so began my final day in Vancouver. After working for a month and a half in Vancouver it was time to leave. My final time at Fraser was spent finishing off my reports and briefing my supervisor Alana on what I had prepared. Again, my thanks to everyone from Fraser.
And so on Thursday 14 February I said my final good byes to the Fraser Institute and made my way to Vancouver airport. I have been stressing about leaving Vancouver for the past few weeks. Before flying to Washington DC I had a two hour stopover in Los Angles. During the two hours in LA I was expecting to have to go through US customs, collect my luggage, change terminal, check in, go through security and finally board my plane. Knowing that LA is a hellish airport my quick stopover did not excite me. However, none of my concerns came to fruition. It was as simple as going through US customs in Vancouver and then walking 500m to another gate once I arrived in LA. So once on the second plane I made the flight over to DC arriving at 6:50am on 15 February. Yes I had taken the red eye flight. Here I was at last in America’s capital Washington DC! I couldn’t stop laughing as my shuttle made it through the main part of DC past Capitol Hill, the national monument, the Lincoln memorial and the White House. It took me a while to get over the fact I was in DC. I still continue to spend my time trying to understand how I came to be in DC.
That evening began the start of the International Students for Liberty Conference put on by the fantastic students association Students for Liberty. Wow what an opportunity to attend a conference like this. I attended a number of fantastic discussion groups on gun control, civil liberties as well as the filming for John Stossel’s program on Fox. However, the highlight at the conference for me was a speech given by Republican Congressmen Justin Amash. Here was a politician that was very open about his libertarian views, took the time to write down why he would vote a particular way and was very open about what he stood for, a no nonsense type of guy. I also met a number of great people from around the world. We would discuss anything from tax reform, liberal philosophy and gun control. I also caught up with the other interns from Mannkal who were at the conference. It certainly was great to attend a conference to view how alive and well the liberal movement is amongst students globally.
So my blog and my trip has come to an end. I would love to take this moment to thank everyone from Mannkal for giving me this opportunity. In particular I would like to especially thank Mr Ron Manners and Mr Andrew Pickford. Thanks also to all of you for following me by reading my blog. I shall return to Australia on March 1 after spending the remainder of the week in Washington DC seeing the sights and then continuing on for a quick trip to New York.
I would encourage any of you reading this to apply for a Fraser internship offered by Mannkal. It is a fantastic opportunity one that you will not regret, nor will you never forget! If you do have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me via email, email@example.com. My thanks again to Mannkal.
mannkal, 14 February 2013
My weekend at Whistler, what I can say. It was simply amazing! I spent two incredible days skiing until my legs could take no more and were shaking. Imagine skiing down glaciers so big you can quite comprehend their size, skiing down ski runs so long it they take you half hour to complete, skiing from the very top of the mountain down to the village and then taking a gondola back up, skiing through a Forrest with no one around you, shooting down Olympic ski runs trying to break the runs record but failing miserably. Well Whistler has it all. It was just awesome! After the weekend at Whistler I am now well and truly hooked on skiing. My hostel in the Olympic village also worked out well too and for a hostel was actually extremely good. I would have loved to have spent more time there!
And so this will be my last entry from Vancouver. It has been a full on week as I have undertaken a last minute scramble to do all those activities that I have been meaning to. I will admit Monday was my one night in. I do need time to recharge the batteries/recover from my trip to Whistler. Tuesday I went out with a group of friends to a $1 taco and karaoke night. Let me just say that if you ever want a private bar in Vancouver get all the Australians from the audience on stage to sing Land Down Under. The audience clears out pretty quick and thus you have a private bar. On Wednesday I went out with a friend from Perth to see Muse. The tickets were so cheap and seats amazing. We really are ripped off in Perth for tickets. Muse certainly knows how to put on the most amazing light show ever! What made the concert better is that they were supported by one of my favourite bands, Band of Skulls. On the Thursday I went out with another group of friends for our usual Thursday night catch up. It was a really tough event to go to as it was my last Thursday event. The night involved a lot of tough good byes. I have gotten to know a bunch of the people from the group really so good byes in that situation are always really difficult. On Friday I went out with some work people for Friday night drinks followed by an invitation by my work friend Bacchus to go to a house party with him.
So I am coming up to my final week with the Fraser institute. I have felt so privileged, humbled and lucky to have spent so much time with the lovely, extremely intelligent and hardworking people at the Fraser Institute. I would like to post a big thank you to everyone whom I have gotten to meet and spent time with from Fraser. More importantly I would like to thank my supervisor Ms Alana Wilson for being the best supervisor anyone could have asked for. I would also like to thank Mr Bacchus Barua for being that guy in the office with whom I can hang out with. Finally, I would like to thank the President of the Fraser Institute Mr Niels Veldhuis for allowing me to come and have this fabulous work experience with the Fraser Institute. If I was to take away anything from my time here with the Fraser Institute it would be not to assume that just because the government thinks it is best, that it is best. If it matters measure it! Facts are more powerful then spin.
And so ends my final entry from Vancouver. What a trip here it has been. Vancouver, it is going to be a tough final week of goodbyes.
mannkal, 4 February 2013
The Fraser Insitute is an independent, non-partisan research and educational organisation based in Vancouver, Canada. Since the think-tank’s 1974 inception, the Fraser Institute has been providing an extensive catalogue of publications which analyse and critique public policy, with an emphasis on choice, markets and responsibility.
In 2013, Mannkal Scholar Angus Duncan was selected to embark on this internship for two months over January and February. To read more about Angus’ experiences, please see below.
mannkal, 4 February 2013
Vancouver has come alive this week! The Canucks, Vancouver’s ice-hockey team, after three soul crushing defeats have at last struck victory against the Calgary Flames in their first win of the season. The game went into overtime and then penalty shoot-outs. It was nail biting stuff! Seeing the passion, enthusiasm and dedication of the fans who sat on the edge of their seats watching these skilled masters of the ice was just an absolute pleasure to sit back and watch over a beer. To think one can witness all this just in a local bar around the corner. The reaction throughout the city to the win was electrifying. There was partying and horns being honked all around downtown. The city was truly in party mode. Even I have jumped on the hockey bandwagon and got on board with the Canucks, but to be honest one doesn’t really have a choice. I can’t wait to actually be at the game next week when the Canucks take on the Colorado Avalanches.
Prior to the Canucks win I could understand why two years ago the Prime Minister of Canada during the Winter Olympics said he would declare a national day of mourning should the Canadian hockey team lose the gold medal match. The city was in a slump after three defeats. Everything has now changed.
This week at in Vancouver I have found a bit tough and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, whilst skiing in the Swiss Alps my younger sister was involved in an accident and had to be taken off to hospital. She had done some serious damaged her knee. With only a week until her school ball and still a few days left of her travels in Paris I found it really hard to see her so upset knowing that I couldn’t be there to comfort her and give her a big brotherly hug. Secondly, I am missing my girlfriend. Finally, I have missed relaxing with my friends on Australia Day listening to Triple J hottest 100 countdown! The countdown is one of the highlights of the year for me. As I have been traveling for the last month and a half, it has been a while since I have seen anyone.
Nonetheless, there is no time to be depressed as there is serious work to be done and so many things to keep me occupied. At Fraser I have now settled into the two big projects assigned to me. One is the report on mining which I haven’t been able to say much about and the other project is reviewing and writing web pages for Fraser’s miningfacts.org website. For this week I have managed to make some big inroads on both projects. Not only have I continued with these projects, but as I have gotten to know people from around the office better I find myself engaging in debates on a whole range of topics from health care to civil liberties and economic philosophy. It is these moments that I have really come to enjoy as not only do they test my knowledge, but also my belief system against other more experienced and knowledgeable people.
In addition to these projects I have also been asked to produce a report on a topic of my choice for Fraser’s student publication. Although my attention at Fraser is on mining, there have been a number of news reports here in Canada regarding freedom of speech. In addition I have been following the reports in Australia on the new anti-discrimination laws proposed by the Australian Labor Government and the likely negative impacts these proposed laws will have on freedom of speech. Based on this context I have begun a report comparing Canadian and Australian regulatory regimes for freedom of speech. This report is in the very early planning stages so there is not much more I can say, but what I can say is both countries have strict regulations that appear to limit rather than guarantee a person’s freedom of speech. This finding I think is a worrying trend that one can see emerging in every developed country. Anyway maybe something can be learnt by comparing both nations.
Apart from work I continue to go skiing every week and catch up with a local group of people. With 3 weeks left in Vancouver there is still so much I have planned and I can’t wait to blog about them to you.
Vancouver, I am getting hooked to you and I’m worried!
mannkal, 4 February 2013
If you had told me that this Friday I would have myself in the middle of a sweaty, smelly and sometimes violent death pit listening to the polka paced punk rock sounds of D.O.A in a small venue in the dodgy part of Vancouver, I would have laughed at you. But there I was. I went to this concert for a number of reasons and I think it is worth pointing them out. First of all D.O.A are one of the cult classic punk bands. Many believe they are the founders of hardcore punk in North America, a point of contention depending on who you ask. Thus they are considered a must see if you get the chance. However, and secondly, last night was there last concert ever. After 35 years they are hanging up their demine jackets and leather pants. Finally, their lead singer Joey Sh**head is running for politics in the upcoming election. Now you might say well with a background and a name like that he has go no hope of even coming close. You might be wrong. This election will be the third time he has run. The first time he narrowly lost, while the second time he ran he won, but was disqualified because of some political bureaucratic mix up. So who knows what will happen this time. At 56 years old this guy can still rock out as good as any young leather covered lover of punk. It was a great concert and I was glad to have seen them. Rock on!
Earlier in the week I went to my first hockey game, the Vancouver Giants taking on the Tri-Americans. Although this was only the WHL (one below the NHL), what a game. The pace and skill involved was just amazing. I had got front row seats behind the goal and I couldn’t have picked a better spot. The amount of massive hits into the wall and the bare knuckles fights right front of was just mind blowing. It was so much fun. Although the Giants lost I am hooked on hockey.
I have also been skiing each Sunday up on the local slopes. There is no greater thrill then racing down a mountain side at what feels like a 100 mile an hour. It certainly wakes you up in the morning.
The week was a really big week for Fraser as they had the release of their Provincial Health Care Index. This report measured the provision of healthcare in each Canadian province and ranked each province accordingly best to worst. This paper received a lot of media attention and was raised a number of times in provincial parliaments. I work across from and have become good friends with the author of the report, Bacchus Barua. What a stressful week it has been for him with phone calls, interviews and a lot of criticisms from the media. In saying it has been stressful we have both had a good chuckle over some of the articles that have come out in response and have been critical of the report.
It is the release of this health care report that has made me realize that when Fraser produces, people listen. With this knowledge in the back of my mind I have actually found producing papers for Fraser to be really unnerving knowing that what I write, research and produce will be read over, scrutinized, criticized and could very well influence policy. But you know what, I love the thrill! The opportunity to potentially influence policy is just an opportunity you don’t get every day. It is maybe the first time in a career that I have gone this is something I could do. In addition I have continued to work on that which I still cannot yet speak about. I’ve also begun writing, amending and updating pages for the website miningfacts.org. Doing the website has been great as I have learnt a lot of interesting facts about mining. I just can’t get over the similarities between Canada and Australia in terms of issues they face and similar regulations.
Anyway, week two has been amazing. Vancouver, I hope this relationship can continue.