Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannerisms

“Drink a Toast to Outstanding Public Service!”

Ron Manners, 28 July 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

In Australia, if there is one person to thank for Australia’s prosperity over the past 30 years, it is Bert Kelly - the Modest Farmer / Modest Member from Tarlee, S.A.

He had an idea that Australia’s then overwhelming protectionist policies and tariffs were holding back Australia’s prosperity.

He stuck with his idea and mentored a small bunch of volunteer colleagues who became known as ‘The Dries”[i]. They conceived policies to remove these restrictions. These policies were implemented and Australia flourished.

At Mannkal Foundation we ‘prospect’ but unlike prospectors who prospect for gold and minerals, we prospect for success stories like Bert Kelly’s and we have found another in the form of John Cowperthwaite.

If there is one person that deserves credit for the prosperity of Hong Kong it is John Cowperthwaite (Financial Secretary 1961- 1971).

His idea? He refused to provide any Hong Kong statistics to his political masters in the U.K.

He knew that if they had access to such statistics they would be tempted to impose central planning on Hong Kong.

He could see the damage that central planning was doing to the economy in the U.K. and he would have no part of it for Hong Kong.

So, Hong Kong prospered and has for many years been the ideal model for other countries to follow.

Hong Kong repeatedly comes in first in the Annual World Index of Economic Freedom[ii].

John Cowperthwaite had this idea and although it made him unpopular in certain circles, he knew that he had to safeguard the prosperity of Hong Kong; so we honour him as a public servant with the qualities of clear thinking and courage.

We will be ‘saluting’ him by requesting our Mannkal scholars, who attend internships in Hong Kong, to research aspects of Sir John Cowperthaite’s career.

Cowperthwaite’s challenge was entirely different to Bert Kelly who set about removing impediments to prosperity.

Cowperthwaite’s challenge was to preserve and encourage prosperity.

They were both fine examples of individuals who should be remembered and emulated.

Please bring more success stories to our attention.

Ron

[i] The foremost of the ‘Dries’ included Bert Kelly, John Hyde, Jim Carlton, Peter Shack, Murray Sainsbury, Stephen Lusher, Jim Short and Ross McLean. Their full story is told in John Hyde’s Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom - IPA - http://www.mannwest.com/bookshop.php?isbn=090953666X

[ii] In Perth, the Fraser Institute, will be launching the results of this year’s World Index of Economic Freedom at a Mannkal / IPA event at the Celtic Club on Thursday, October 30th - you are invited, see details at www.mannkal.org.

Travel; an easy decision!

Ron Manners, 24 June 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

When multiple invitations arrive and they all string together into one potentially great adventure, what does one do about it?

Accept of course! This resulted in a remarkable June, 2014.

The five invitations were:-

• Attend an intimate dinner with one of my favourite economists, Prof. David Friedman, during his brief visit to the Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong.
• An opportunity to interview the remarkable Linda Whetstone in U.K. (and spend a weekend with my daughter and family).
• To attend the wedding of two amazing young people in Ukraine, including the opportunity to try some Australian poetry on the guests.
• To interview four of the key young people in Ukraine who organized the Euro-Maidan Revolution, resulting in their corrupt President fleeing the country.
• To participate in the 25h anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Revolution, held in Hong Kong on 4th June, 2014 where 1,500 people were expected to attend but 200,000 turned up. There I was with my video camera and a supportive Chinese interpreter.

There are many memorable moments from this trip as I was confronted by young people who, having experienced living in a country or close to a country that has been stripped of everyday freedoms, virtually sparkle with anticipation of enjoying the freedoms that we, in Australia, are born with and so casually take for granted.

We can ‘buck the bureaucracy’ and the penalty is to be annoyed with correspondence or perhaps a modest fine.

For them, they will carry memories for the rest of their lives, particularly if they have been standing next to a 25 year old friend who was shot by their own Government for ‘bucking the bureaucracy’.

These thoughts run through my mind as I complete the editing of some videos to be loaded - here

These are the videos with details of their availability status.

1. Prof. David Friedman – Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong here

2. Linda Whetstone (U.K.) in Conversation here

3. Tiananmen Square 25th Commemoration in Hong Kong here

“Do not expect water from an empty well!”

Ron Manners, 20 May 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

Budget comment

 

The wise old Chinese philosopher Four Finger Wu used to say, “Do not expect water from an empty well!”, when he realized there was nothing there to feed your fantasies.

 

Yes, it’s time to look after ourselves, even after spending so many years living at the expense of others.

 

“Others”, in reality ourselves, have become tired of paying everyone else’s expenses now that they realize so little comes out the other end after politics and the bureaucracy “skims the cream off”, as it passes through so many government departments.

 

Federal and State budgets have come and gone again with the usual amount of squealing from those who feel disadvantaged after being reminded that “the age of entitlement is over” (as announced by Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey).

 

Interestingly enough our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has simultaneously announced that “the age of entitlement is just beginning” (with his Parental Leave Scheme where we are now expected to pay people to stay home and share quality time with their children).  Yes, it is us paying as we are the shareholders, through our compulsory superannuation funds, who own shares in the companies that are now to pay the Parental Leave Tax.

 

On the positive side, these budgets, State and Federal, have brought on many statistics to prompt us to face reality.

 

1.       Australia is now one of the highest taxed countries (I bet you don’t know how much total tax you are paying, as it is a mammoth job to add all the hidden taxes together.  It is possible for you to pay 84% total tax in one year in Australia).

2.       Australia’s household debt is now amongst the world’s highest so where do we go from here?

3.       Australia is paying $90 million to search for someone else’s plane (Malaysian Airlines MH 370), without us being told if this amount is to come from either of the following two options;

·         Our existing foreign aid budget (which means that some other numbers are to be reduced).

Or

·         By borrowing more from China.

 

Perhaps it is fair to observe that nothing much will change until “we, the people”, accept responsibility for our own selves and families. 

 

Do you see many of us sending back our welfare payments? (Family support, health, education and, in particular, the corporate welfare payments).  However, let me mention that pensions are not welfare payments to those who have paid taxes.

 

The French philosopher, Frédéric Bastiat, over 150 years ago must have had in mind Australia 2014 when he said, “The Government is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

 

However, at least we still have the best beaches in the world!

Western Australia Revitalized?

Ron Manners, 28 April 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) has opened up the windows and let some fresh air in.

Congratulations to Lyndon Rowe, the Chairman of the ERA, in releasing this draft report on “Microeconomic Reform in W.A.” on April 11th, 2014.

You will find the draft report, the separate overview and also a six minute video - here

Our State politicians are in a fortunate position, having a document such as this, to guide them in actions that will make a difference.

The timing of this report is important as our parliamentarians are faced with the choice of:-

1. To do nothing and allow us to drift into a ‘period of weak growth in Australia for at least 50 years’) as outlined in Federal Treasury’s warning from today’s Australian – here

& capably described by State Treasurer, Dr. Mike Nahan today - here

Or;

2. They can revitalize our State’s economy by instituting policies outlined in the ERA report.

There is no ‘third way’ so those of us who favour a healthy economy should open up lines of communication with our own local MPs and urge them to read and understand the ERA report and step forward and kick a goal for our State.

How do we judge whether this report is effective?

It must be, because it has upset all the usual entrenched vested interests that have lost sight of ‘serving their clients’ (an example is the Potato Board … having been abolished elsewhere it has miraculously survived in W.A., and continues to give us more expensive potatoes).

Henry Ford once said;

“Obstacles are those frightful things you can see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

His words should be remembered by our politicians when they study the ERA’s report.

The ‘obstacles’ identified in that report benefit only the bureaucracy and our politicians were not elected to represent the bureaucracy.

I commend this report to you and for further background reading you might enjoy:-

  • Mannkal’s submission to the ERA in September, 2013 - here
  • The Mannkal – IPA Project WA Report - here
  • How Weak Management Destroyed Australia’s Competitiveness - here

We are happy to receive your own comments, by simply responding to this blog.

With so many books on leadership, why are there so few leaders?

Ron Manners, 1 April 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

The title for this Mannerism is borrowed from Chapter 4 of the ‘Three Laws of Performance’, a book by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, where they attempt to answer this very serious question.

It’s an important question because the answer is not obvious, alluded to by the early Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:-

…. A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troups will feel they did it themselves.

Leadership, by definition, is disruptive and that’s why it’s often not welcomed by management.

Leadership is a classic example of ‘creative destruction’, the term used by the Austrian Economist, Joseph Schumpeter. Tearing something down, so it can be replaced by something better.

In Australia we now see examples of our business ‘leaders’ actually sabotaging industry by signing defective ‘Enterprise Agreements’ which effectively handed the management of their enterprises over to the Labour Unions. So much for ‘leadership’!

By following soft options, which has entrenched defective cultures into our industrial system, these ‘leaders’ in signing these so-called Enterprise Agreements have caused Australia to be non-competitive on world markets.

Forget their repeated excuse about ‘Australia’s strong dollar’. It is our own ‘leaders’ who have shot Australia in the foot.

Their actions are now being exposed by three well-informed analysts, who are making these various Enterprise Agreements (SPC-Ardmona, Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Qantas), available on the internet, for all to see.

These three well informed people are, Robert Gottliebsen (Business Spectator):

http://www.mannkal.org/downloads/links/How_to_sack_executives.pdf

Grace Collier (The Australian):

http://www.mannkal.org/downloads/links/How_unions_manipulate_us.pdf

Ken Phillips (The Australian Independent Contractors Association)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7CFThlpfpw&list=UU-EI6MCU5uYovdd3mmOXpaA

Yes, Australia does have some great leaders and we have set out on a quest in search of them, so they can be suitably acknowledged. We need more leaders like them to step forward and undo the damage done by the inability of so many who have refused to get up off their knees in front of labour unions, various governments and the battalions of ‘politically correct’ economic vandals.

For details of our quest click here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxLbhBMCNqk&list=UU-EI6MCU5uYovdd3mmOXpaA

From the archives: “Government Funding of the Arts” (1994)

admin, 3 March 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

For this month’s Mannerisms, Ron has delved into his archives to cover “Government Funding of the Arts”…

“WHAT POLITICS DESTROYS, IT FIRST SUBSIDISES” GOLDEN MILE ART EXHIBITION GROUP OFFICIAL OPENING OF EXHIBITION NOVEMBER 18, 1994 BY RON MANNERS, PATRON

For over 20 years I have been involved in a very small way with a University based in Hillsdale, Michigan USA.

Hillsdale is only one quarter the size of Kalgoorlie, but Hillsdale College has become famous throughout the USA and in other parts of the world for two main reasons : · Their high standards · The fact that they refuse to accept any government funding.

Hillsdale College recognised years ago that what politics destroys, it first subsidises.

By refusing to take taxpayers’ money from the government, Hillsdale has been able to set their standards higher than the minimum standards set by government regulations. This shows in the quality of their teaching staff and their students and the fact that employers are prepared to pay a salary premium for Hillsdale Graduates.

I only tell that story as a way of buying into the vigorous debate raging in Australia over Government funding for “the arts”. On one side we have a clamouring mass of so-called artists who have no confidence in their own ability to produce something that the public wants. These people use pressure group tactics to feed at the public trough.

On the other side, is a growing group who feel uneasy at the similarities between our politicians buying votes with other people’s money, and the brainwashing antics of history’s many other pompous rulers who thought they could control the people by controlling the arts.

Adolph Hitler was “big” on opening art exhibitions and one of his henchmen, Joseph Goebbels explained why, in these words, when addressing the 1937 Joint Congress of the Reich Chamber of Culture and Strength Through Joy, just a few years before starting World War II.

“The German artist has his feet on a solid, vital ground. Art, taken out of its narrow and isolated circle, again stands in the midst of the people and from there exerts its strong influences on the whole nation.. To be sure, the political leadership has interfered in this, and today it still interferes daily and directly. But this occurs in a way that can only work to the benefit of the German artist: through subsidy, the commission of works, and a patronage of the Arts, whose generosity is unique in the whole world.

… Germany marches ahead of all other countries not only in art but also in the care which it showers upon artists…. The German artist of today feels himself freer and more untrammelled than ever before. With joy he serves the people and the state, who have accept ed him and his cause in such a warmhearted and understanding way. National socialism has wholly won over German creative artists. They belong to us and we to them”.

The term “Government Grant” itself, is a misnomer as the government has no money of its own, they only have money that has been taken, by force, from the taxpayers, so we should more accurately use the term “Taxpayer Grant”.

Such government funding, by throwing taxpayers’ money at the Arts, will destroy our real art in much the same way as it is destroying our educational standards, As John Lennon said; “Everything the Government touches, turns brown” So where are these comments leading us? They lead me to suggest two things: · The Australia Council for the Arts describes one of its functions as “shaping Australia’s cultural identity”.

Ladies & gentlemen, what is “our cultural identity”? Who has the right to “shape” it? What I suggest is that the Golden Mile Art Exhibition Group doesn’t need to have its “cultural identity” reshaped. The works that you see on these walls illustrate your high level of self-esteem. It’s high enough to project a “cultural identity” of its own.

· I also suggest that the Golden Mile Art Exhibition Group could become famous throughout Australia (in a similar fashion to Hillsdale College), by simply “sending back” the next Taxpayer Grant it receives, with a note, saying “Please give this money back to the long-suffering taxpayers”.

Question the morality of the politicians and the bureaucrats giving you the taxpayers’ money, remind them that it is simply not theirs to give.

Point out to the bureaucracy that the tax-dollars they took from our neighbours’ pocket was to the detriment of our neighbours’ standard of living. Remind them that, these dollars, left in the hands of our neighbours could have helped to provide employment opportunities and even explain to them that unemployment is a greater problem for Australia than funding unpopular Art.

Our art, produced by the Golden Mile Art exhibition Group is not unpopular so it does not need a taxpayer subsidy.

You receive support from voluntary contributions and voluntary purchases and you have enough confidence in your own ability to maintain this support and in so doing, retain your own pride and dignity.

Can you imagine the Australia wide publicity you would receive by sending the taxpayers’ money back unspent? You can’t buy that sort of publicity, but if you could, I suggest that it would be worth several times the value of the taxpayer’s grant itself.

Australia still loves an independent battler and a bold move from your group would bring tremendous support for your activities.

Such a bold move would take courage but the rewards would be worthwhile.

You should be ready with a coloured catalogue for sale to all those who respond to that publicity.

What sort of support would be forthcoming? There are many admirers of the work of your group and this week I was speaking to the Goldfields Mining Expo Executive and they are delighted that you are planning an exhibition to coincide with the 1995 Expo. For a start they have guaranteed the purchase of between $2,000 and $3,000 value in paintings, but more importantly they would like to publicise your exhibit in their publicity material, being distributed world-wide.

This is good for them too as it helps to overcome the image of our Goldfields being “one dimensional”. (i.e. business without a soul).

This is also an appropriate moment to congratulate the group and the individual members whose works were recently acquired by the Holmes a Court Collection.

Ladies & gentlemen, as with all investments, the time to buy is just before the price goes up and the rate at which this Group’s fame is spreading, the time to buy is now, so get hold of those red stickers and quickly put them on the paintings of your choice.

Paying compound interest on a bad investment?

Ron Manners, 3 February 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

The SPC Ardmona and General Motors Holden decisions are important turning points in Australia’s economic history.

In their hearts, everyone who has a grasp of how the world really works, must know that our Government has made the correct decision in bringing to an end this ‘bandaid’ solution of ‘corporate welfare’ where the Australian taxpayer is called on to pick up the tab for weak management.

So the equipment at the SPC Ardmona fruit canning factory is antiquated?

Where has management been hiding all these years?

If I put my hand up to explain that in our business, in 2014, “We are running our business using typewriters and would like to buy some computers so can we please have a taxpayer handout to purchase them?” I would be laughed out of the room.

As hard-hearted, as it may sound, Australia has one of the best business-restructuring systems in the world.

The remedy is already there when businesses are in trouble with profitability, they just simply call in one of the highly qualified Administrator businesses who proceeds with ‘remedial surgery’ and then after suitable restructuring the company is brought back to life and able to proudly participate in contributing to our nation’s economic health.

This is a far better solution than what has so far extracted $1.8 billion from Australia’s long-suffering taxpayers to keep the Australian automotive industry afloat.

So, how does a Government decide who to ‘help’ and who not to ‘help’?

Simply by asking the question whether it is the Government’s legitimate role to make cars or process and can fruit? If it’s not the Government’s legitimate role the answer is simply to step back and allow market forces to restructure that which is damaged.

Our nation will be better for this ‘hands-off’ approach, irrespective of how unpopular this may appear at the time to politicians who are primarily driven by votes rather than brains.

Future generations, in particular, will appreciate a return to sanity as they are becoming concerned at the debt they are inheriting from the so-called ‘leaders’ of the present generation.

They are aware that any ‘bailout’ money needs to be borrowed and their concern is justified as I describe the current situation as ‘paying compound interest on a bad investment’.

No longer are we subservient!

Ron Manners, 7 January 2014
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

A few years ago, revolts were expressed as violent events, often resulting in wars.

How different today, where apart from the well publicized running-wars, we have hundreds of peaceful protests in dozens of countries.

No longer do citizens have to suffer bad governments in silence.

What has changed is simply that the citizens now have social media tools to mobilize thousands of people who share their concerns.

All this is happening at a time when, on a world-wide basis, respect for authority has sunk to an all time low.

Governments have ‘sunk’ by assuming that once ‘in power’ they no longer have to earn the respect of those they ‘serve’.

Similar comments could be applied to our educational system, where the more we spend the less we get.

Informed observers of the international scene can be excused for being cynical about ‘published results’, over a wide spectrum, due to the difficulty experienced in measuring such results.

An example is the United States economy, where we are told it is now performing excellently. However, this is being measured in U.S. dollars, which have devalued by 95% over the past 100 years (since the Federal Reserve was established to ‘protect the currency’). Australia’s figures are similar which makes it difficult to answer the question, “if we can’t even trust our unit of measurement, how are we really performing?”

Am I being too cynical of our institutions and their need to once again focus on earning our respect?

Well, to give you something to worry about, parents who are paying good money to have children educated at universities, should click on the following link and read the article in full:-

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/academic-with-a-murky-past-stirs-fresh-controversy-with-trip-to-damascus/story-e6frg6zo-1226794765060

(If you encounter password problems, simply Google the article’s title “Academic with a murky past stirs fresh controversy with trip to Damascus”.

Should you seriously consider a peaceful protest to express your concerns?

Australia hasn’t had a decent protest since the Eureka Stockade Revolt in 1854, but we now have the social media ‘tools’ to send a simple message:-

“We are watching and it’s time to earn our respect.”

Ron Manners

January, 2014

Greenpeace hooligans or heroes?

Ron Manners, 3 December 2013
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

With fascination I observe Australia’s ABC (and media generally) reporting and granting hero status on a group of well funded ‘hooligans’ (to use the Russian term).

In a high profile exhibition of irresponsibility, they attempted to climb on board a Russian oil drilling platform.

Anyone who has physically worked for a living has been trained to be aware and considerate for the safety of those around them.

Possibly the most sensitive physical location, in which to be operating, is on such an oil drilling or production platform when there are enough natural hazards without the injection of an element of human stupidity.

Protecting human lives and preventing environmental damage is itself a major challenge in such a hazardous location!

The so-called, Arctic 30, injected themselves, forcibly, into such a situation.

Before judging their hero or hooligan status let’s pause for a moment and imagine a reciprocal situation where a bunch of Russian ‘hooligans’ pull up alongside one of Australia’s North West offshore drilling or production platforms and with grappling ropes attempt to climb on-board with maximum disruption in mind.

Not only is safety and environmental damage at stake but we would be threatened with total disruption to most of Western Australia’s productivity.

Would we, as individuals or as media representatives, immediately grant them ‘hero’ status or would we decide it to be more appropriate to put them behind bars as they pose a threat to lives and Australia’s national interest?

Also, what about those who finance and encourage such ‘hooliganism’?

How would you judge them?

Your choice!

Ron Manners

December, 2013

More: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24170129

http://news.yahoo.com/greenpeace-activists-storm-russian-oil-rig-063813773.html

Australia’s endangered species- Small Business

Ron Manners, 4 November 2013
Check out the author's latest book at www.HeroicMisadventures.com

What are the major challenges facing Australia’s small to medium enterprises right now?

 

According to a study from the University of Newcastle, one-third of start-ups fail in the first year; on a cumulative basis, by year three 62% have failed and by year five 74%.

 

One of the major problems driving small business to extinction in Australia is the overwhelming red tape thrown at us from Federal Government, State Government and Local Government.

 

The cost of compliance in terms of the hours spent on useless documentation is anathema to the new generation of forward-thinking risk-taking entrepreneurs.

 

These people are hard working, but they want to retain focus on productivity and building a business rather than an avalanche of form filling.

 

Every newly elected Federal, State and Local Government promises to ‘ease the bureaucratic burden on businesses’ but they never do. 

 

Regulation only services and favours the regulators, and the regulators have completely captured the process at all levels of government.

 

To understand the size of the problem one has first to look inside the minds of the ‘regulators’.

 

Why do the worst get to the top?

 

This question was answered by one of our favourite economists, F.A. Hayek, in his book The Road to Surfdom when he illustrated the mentality of the people who had come to occupy the positions at the top of government hierarchies’ in a centrally planned economy.

 

Hayek showed how normally tolerant and productive individuals are never attracted to such work and showed that it was for this reason that in any economy drifting towards socialism, ‘the worst get on top’.

 

More recently Geoffrey Brennan and James M Buchanan in their book The Reason of Rules stated, “If institutions are such as to permit a selected number of persons to exercise discretionary power over others, what sort of persons should be predicted to occupy these positions?”  … page 64.

 

Brennan and Buchanan explain why we should expect that the people most willing to work hard to attain political office, will be those who expect to gain the most from holding such office.

 

So what causes me to be writing in such a negative fashion on such a fine Spring day in Perth?

 

Our Mannkal Foundation has just opened a stock-broker account and I’ve added up all the time and effort required to complete what used to be a very simple procedure.

 

Now, after being forced to obtained certified I.D.’s of all our Board Members and completing all the formal documentation three times (on the first two sets of documents couriered, some of the small print requirements were over-looked), we are finally in a position where we can ‘transact business’.

 

Our estimated cost of completing this documentation is $1,500.  This could have been obtained a few years ago with a simple phone call.

 

Similarly, with opening a bank account, it is now necessary to take half a day off, from productive work, visit your bank and complete the ‘100 point assessment test’.

 

No wonder so many people are exercising their freedom of choice and ‘transacting less’.

 

Our country and economy is much poorer and less vibrant when things are made ‘too hard’.

 

Some other examples?  At a time when Western Australia is desperately short of land for new homes our new government is intent on unnecessarily jeopardizing the development of large tracts of ready-to-go subdividable land and the results are ever escalating costs for new building blocks.

 

However, I shouldn’t be surprised at all this.  After all, Western Australia must be one of the few remaining outposts of bureaucratic bungling as it still clings to the anachronistic Potato Board, again intent on driving up the price of potatoes.

 

Anyone else in favour of declaring ‘open season on bureaucrats‘?