Opening Statement to the Senate Select Committee on Red Tape: Effect of Red Tape on occupational licensing.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this senate inquiry.
Let me start by saying that the goal of public policy should be to allow all Australians to succeed based on their own hard work and merit.
Earned success – the process of applying one’s skills and talents to achieve a goal of one’s own design – is the key to allowing people to reach their potential and to flourish as individuals.
Unfortunately, too much government policy is actively undermining the ability of many Australians to reach their potential. Perhaps the most egregious area of policy is regulation and red tape.
Research we did at the IPA found that red tape reduces economic output by $176 billion each year, which is around 10 per cent of GDP. This estimate is not an abstract number. It captures all of the jobs never created, the businesses never started, and, ultimately, the dreams and aspirations which are never fulfilled.
And a key area of red tape is occupational licensing.
Occupational licensing entails government regulated conditions and requirements that must be met before an individual can legally practice or participate in a profession.
People should be free to earn a living in the way they best see fit. But occupational licensing stops this happening.
Indeed, occupational licensing all too often acts as government enable cartel that inflates the wages and market share of licensed workers at the expense of non-licensed workers.
Firstly, occupational licensing creates barrier to market entry. This reduces the number of people in licensed professions and increases the number of people in non-licensed professions. This dries up labour supply in licensed professions, which pushes wages up, while it floods labour supply in unlicensed professions, which pushes wages down.
Moreover, many Australians who do not have the means to obtain a license are diverted in occupational that they are less suited to. This severely curtails their ability to reach their potential and practice a vocation which they enjoy and which they find they find meaningful and fulfilling.
Secondly, occupational licenses increase the cost of licensed goods and services. This has a disproportionality negative effect on low income households. In other words, occupational licensing acts as a regressive tax.
Thirdly, occupational licensing makes it more difficult for people to move between jurisdictions within Australia. This can make it harder for people to move away from areas where there are few jobs to areas where there are more job opportunities, with the effect of entrenching unemployment.
Despite these costs, occupational licensing confers comparatively few benefits from a community wide perspective.
Some claim that occupational licensing improves health and safety outcomes, or product and service quality. However, even a report on occupational licensing provided by the Obama White House concluded that ‘most research does not find that licensing improves quality or public health and safety’.
In fact, occupational licensing can actually reduce health and safety and quality outcomes by reducing competition. Less competitive markets contain businesses which are less responsive to the needs and preferences of consumers, and so are less likely to deliver high quality, low cost products and services.
Moreover, by raising prices, occupational licensing reduces real income. This means that people economise on the use of licensed products and services, which can cause negative health outcomes.
Competitive markets operating in a free market system, by contrast, put pressure on businesses to improve the quality of their products and services. Bad businesses suffer through negative reputational consequences. Good businesses expand and gain a larger market share.
This process has been bolstered through online communication platforms and ratings websites which improve the quality of information available and further enhance reputational mechanisms.
Based on this, we recommend substantial changes be made to the licensing regime in Australia.
Occupational licensing should be completely removed for all low-risk professions, such as hairdressers, beauticians, bee keepers, refrigeration and air conditioning occupations, many trades and property occupations, and so on.
There is also a strong case that licensing should be relaxed in other, higher stakes occupations like medicine. It is important to remember that the medical profession is concerned with the interests of health care providers, not patients. And the current regulatory regime has not sufficiently accounted for the plethora of technological changes which are empowering consumers with more and better information.
At a minimum, governments should undertake a detailed assessment of the costs and benefits of occupational licensing in such sectors.
Thank you for your time.
We look forward to taking any questions you may have.
Before the Whitlam government got its hands on the nation’s coffers, in 1972, tax as a percentage of GDP was just 16.9 per cent. Real taxes per capita were under $6000 a year. The Budget was in surplus. Net debt was negative.
Just four years later taxes had climbed close to 21 per cent of GDP. Spending grew by an astonishing 20 per cent in 1974 and 16 per cent the following year, in real terms. The Budget went into deficit, and debt blew out.
Ever since then, the size of government, the extent of taxation, and the level of spending has continued to grow almost without exception.
By 2021 taxes are expected to reach 24 per cent of GDP: Yes, this is slightly lower than during the Howard years where the commodity boom led to record revenue. But it is a long way from the pre-Whitlam excesses.
And when we look at the state and local government taxes and charges, plus superannuation – which is a tax on wages – over 40 per cent of income is going to taxes.
All of this under a Coalition government. Imagine what will have happened when Labor gets back in power.
When we talk about tax reform, we usually talk about it in technical terms.
We know that all taxes destroy wealth. But that some taxes are more destructive than others.
Australia has a very high reliance on the corporate tax – the most destructive of all taxes. Even the Gillard governments review of tax found that the so-called marginal excess burden of corporate tax is 40 per cent. Meaning every dollar that is raised by the corporate tax – 40 cents of economic value is destroyed.
Yet in 2015, the Australian government take of the business tax was 4.3 per cent of GDP. This is substantially higher than the OECD average of 2.7 per cent.
And corporate tax as a percentage of total tax is the highest in the OECD – at 15.3 per cent in Australia compared with just 8 per cent for the OECD average.
The left talk about corporates not paying their fair share. But businesses are just a composition of the workers, consumers, and shareholders of which they are comprised. Businesses don’t pay tax. People pay tax!
We also have a reliance on the so-called progressive income tax – the second most destructive federal tax.
But we have a low reliance on the GST – one of the least bad taxes. Although the butchered implementation means it is far worse than it should be.
Making compositional changes to the tax system – increasing reliance on GST, and reducing reliance on corporate and personal income taxes – are an important part of the conversation.
So too is restructuring the broken GST system. Under current arrangements, the GST is a mechanism for low performing states with bad economic policy to be bailed out by high perfuming states with good economic policy.
Western Australia is paying south Australia to blow up its coal plants and expose itself to whims of the sun and the wind.
Instead, states should be able to implement their own GST and keep whatever they raise. Rather than this being decided by some opaque bureaucratic modelling. If the GST really is a “state tax” then let the states deal with it.
But it is also important to have a goal.
That goal should be to reduce taxes as percentage of GDP at least back to pre-Whitlam rate of 16.9 per cent. A fairly modest proposal, I think. And much better than the Treasurer’s much vaunted 24.9 per cent tax speed limit, which will never be implemented and no one believes.
How do we get there?
The only way is to reduce spending.
Spending is tax. Every dollar of spending is a dollar of tax. That tax can be paid today or deferred into the future via the accumulation of debt.
Really, cutting taxes without cutting spending is not really cutting taxes at all. It is deferring taxes into the future – that is for today’s young Australians to foot the bill.
Tax is the equivalent to debt (plus interest). Debt today is $560 billion. The interest bill on debt alone is $18 billion a year, $1.5 billion a month, $375 million a week, $50 million every single day.
All up it means there will be $560 billion in extra taxes sometime in the future.
And the government claims it is cutting taxes.
Well, at least they are trying to reduce the corporate rate.
They also want to abolish the 37 income per cent tax threshold.
These are good ideas. But deferred way into the future. The corporate tax cuts weren’t slated to come in until 2026-27. And the income tax cuts not until 2024-25.
Either you believe in lower taxes or you don’t.
And the reason taxes are growing is because spending is growing. Every year over the forward estimate spending grows.
So how do we reduce spending?
I am a fan of simple rules.
Every government department should reduce spending by 1 per cent per year for the next four years.
If we did this, the Budget would be in Surplus within in one year. By 2021-22, debt would $326 billion instead of $580 billion. Too high, but getting better.
This would then start to provide room for the government to implement permanent, and sustainable cuts to taxes and move us toward the pre-Whitlam 16.9 per cent tax to GDP ratio.
I see no reason why each department cannot tighten its belt by just one per cent. Start with the pay and the generous superannuation entitlements and the number to bureaucrats, sell off the ABC, devolved education to the states.
This raises an even more important question which is why should we cut taxes?
Yes, lower taxes will encourage more business investment, which will create more job opportunities.
Yes, lower taxes will increase economic growth.
And, yes, lower taxes will increase take home pay.
But lower taxes are good for a much more important reason: they encourage earned success.
This is something I think we could get a little better at communicating.
We know that people flourish when they earn their own success. It’s not the money per se, which is merely a measure–not a source–of this earned success.
Getting more money – after a certain point – isn’t what makes people happier – it is earning more money that makes them happier.
That’s why a pay check and welfare check are not equivalent. A pay check is earned success. While a welfare check is the opposite – learned helplessness. It teaches people that good things or bad things aren’t a product of their own action or their own agency, but things randomly bestowed upon them.
This is why the goal of our political system should to give all Australians the greatest opportunities possible to succeed based on their hard work and merit.
Allowing people to keep as much of the fruits of their labour as possible isn’t just an economic necessity. It’s a moral imperative.
High taxes actively discourage earned success.
This is particularly pernicious for those on a low income who lose more of their money as well as their government benefits as they move up the income scale. Known as high effective marginal tax rates.
The effective marginal tax rate is as high as 80 per cent for those on around $10-15 thousand.
It’s almost as if there is a government plot to deny low income people the dignity of work and to keep poor people poor.
Of course, the same people who call for these high tax rates then blame capitalism for exploitation and keeping these poor people poor.
Low and flat income taxes encourage upward economic mobility.
Low business taxes encourage business investment, which allows more people to experience the dignity of work and to opportunity to earn their own success.
It is time to aim high and look to get the tax burden back to the pre-Whitlam levels of 16.9 per cent of GDP.
Speech by Daniel Wild to the annual Friedman Conference in Sydney.
A new book edited by Dr Chris Berg and Dr Darcy Allen, ‘Australia’s Red Tape Crisis’ was launched today at an Institute of Public Affairs event in Parliament House.
Coverage of the book was covered in The Australian today in a report by Economics Editor Adam Creighton.
Thou shalt not mandate. A new book by two free-market thinkers at RMIT University has declared Australia’s deregulation agenda an abject failure, urging governments to adopt a novel Canadian approach to unclogging the nation’s economic arteries.
Launched by the Institute of Public Affairs today in Canberra, Australia’s Red Tape Crisis, edited by Christopher Berg and his colleague Darcy Allen, has found mounting regulation is costing the economy $176 billion a year.
“Every elected Australian government over the past two decades has declared they would cut back on unnecessary regulation and red tape,” Dr Allen said.
He continues his report:
The book recommends governments instead focus on cutting “restrictiveness clauses” in legislation and regulations. “If a law or regulation says ‘must’ or ‘shall’ or ‘cannot’, you get rid of it,” Dr Berg said. In British Columbia, the number of restrictiveness clauses has fallen from 330,000 in 2001 to 170,000 last year.
“What’s really significant about this is it coincided with a big jump in growth in British Columbia compared to the rest of Canada. It was before then one of the worst-performing provinces,” he said.
As The Australian editorial ‘Red And Green Tape Hurts Us All’ notes:
Australia’s Red Tape Crisis, edited by Darcy Allen and Chris Berg, quotes a Deloitte estimate on the cost of federal, state and local government regulatory burdens at $94 billion annually. The book also cites a study claiming this burden cuts output by $176bn, or more than 10 per cent of GDP. “In an ideal world,” Berg argues in the book, “governments would intervene in the market when there was clear evidence that consumers and producers would be significantly worse off in the absence of that intervention.” But in the real world governments will intervene much more often for a variety of reasons. There will always be good reasons to regulate — we have only to look to the banking royal commission to see the consequences that flow from inadequate or poorly policed regulation — but there is also a constant risk of unintended consequences. From renewable energy targets to vehicle emissions restrictions and native vegetation clearance controls, we see how environmental regulation, or green tape, adds layers and complexity.
Red tape costs the Australian economy as much as $176 billion a year. Governments create and enforce thousands of regulations on our workplaces and our communities. These rules slow and prevent businesses forming, people from flourishing, new technologies from being adopted, and hold back Australia’s global competitiveness.
Australia’s Red Tape Crisis is an exploration into the economics, politics and culture of over-regulation. How should we structure our federation to achieve reform? Does Australia have a deep desire for a federal bureaucracy? What is the future of red tape reduction policies?
Together, the contributions of economists, philosophers, politicians and lawyers help define a path for overcoming Australia’s red tape crisis. The Book ‘Australia’s Red Tape Crisis’ can be purchased here.
The next really big breakthrough in environmental management could come from better forecasting of droughts and floods. In particular, using machine learning to mine historical climate data, build models based on clever algorithms, and use these to forecast rainfall.*
As a consequence of my involvement in this work, and searching for the best long historical temperature series, I stumbled across deficiencies in how the Australian Bureau of Meteorology archives its temperature data – and how it remodels temperature series to make them more consistent with human-caused global warming theory.
Over the last year, I’ve come to realize that the problem extends far beyond remodelling raw data. There are also issues with the calibration of the electronic probes that have been used to measure temperatures since November 1996, this casts doubt over the integrity of the raw data.
Of course, fundamental to machine learning is the integrity of the data. So, in corrupting the measurements the Bureau may not only be artificially exaggerating the extent of recent warming, it is compromising our ability to forecast rainfall using the latest big data techniques forever.
I didn’t explain this in my recent letter to Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. I mostly detailed how the Bureau’s measuring system may not be fit for purpose – and suggested he look into it.
It is difficult to know how much to include in a letter to the Chief Scientist.
Anyway, the text follows, and you can download it as a PDF here.
PS. The photograph is from my visit to the Goulburn airport weather station last July.
Dr Alan Finkel AO
Office of the Chief Scientist
Dear Dr Finkel
Re: Bureau not measuring temperatures consistent with international standards
For some years I have been asking for an open, honest and independent inquiry into the operations of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. In 2015, I wrote to the Auditor-General of Australia suggesting a performance audit with terms of reference to include: consistency with its own policies, and reliability of methodology. At the time my primary concern was the remodelling of raw data through a process known as homogenisation.
In response, it was suggested I direct my concerns to Dr Ron Sandland AM, who at that time was chairing a Technical Advisory Forum to review these same issues, that I had previously raised with the former Minister for the Environment, Hon. Greg Hunt MP. It was already clear to me that Dr Sandland and his team were undertaking a most cursory review and not working through a single example of homogenisation. I nevertheless made a submission to Dr Sandland’s Forum that has never been acknowledged.
To be clear, my issues continue to be less with the actual policies, protocols and best practice manuals already in place, but with increasing evidence, these are being systematically ignored.
The one issue that I would like to bring to your immediate attention concerns the way temperatures are currently measured in automatic weather stations by electronic probes. This goes to the heart of the integrity and reliability of temperature measurements recorded by the Bureau, which are subsequently homogenised, and incorporated into international databases – including those relied upon by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Historically maximum air temperature was measured by mercury thermometers – worldwide. But over recent decades there has been a transition to electronic probes in automatic weather stations.
There is a lot of natural variability in air temperature (particularly on hot sunny days at inland locations), which was smoothed to some extent by the inertia of mercury thermometers. In order to ensure some equivalence between measurements from mercury thermometers and electronic probes, it is standard practice for the one-second readings from electronic probes to be averaged over a one-minute period – or in the case of the US National Weather Service the averaging of the one-second readings is over 5 minutes.
The Australian Bureau began the change-over to electronic probes as the primary instrument for the measurement of air temperatures in November 1996.
The original IT system for averaging the one-second readings from the electronic probes was put in place by Almos Pty Ltd, who had done similar work for the Indian, Kuwaiti, Swiss and other meteorological offices. The software in the Almos setup (running on the computer within the on-site shelter) computed the one-minute average (together with other statistics). This data was then sent to what was known as a MetConsole (the computer server software), which then displayed the data, and further processed the data into ‘Synop’, ‘Metar’, ‘Climat’ formats. This system was compliant with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. The maximum daily temperature for each location was recorded as the highest one-minute average for that day.
This was the situation until at least 2011 – I have this on good advice from a previous Bureau employee. It is likely to have been the situation through until perhaps February 2013 when Sue Barrell from the Bureau wrote to a colleague of mine, Peter Cornish, explaining that the one-second readings from the automatic weather station at Sydney Botanical Gardens were numerically-averaged. At some point over the last five years, however, this system has been disbanded. All, or most, of the automatic weather stations, now stream data from the electronic probes directly to the Bureau’s own software. This could be an acceptable situation, except that the Bureau no-longer averages the one-second readings over a one-minute period.
Indeed, it could be concluded that the current system is likely to generate new record hot days for the same weather – because of the increased sensitivity of the measuring equipment and the absence of any averaging/smoothing. To be clear, the highest one-second spot reading is now recorded as the maximum temperature for that day at the 563 automatic weather stations across Australia that are measuring surface air temperatures.
This is not generally understood. Most meteorologists and university professors in Australia appear to be working from the wrong assumption that the old system is still in place. Given this data is also used by thousands of other scientists and technologists, not just in Australia but across the world, I urge you to investigate.
My investigations have included scrutiny of actual measurements from the current probe at Mildura, in north-western Victoria. This data was made available to me following a directive from the Minister for the Environment, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, to Andrew Johnson, CEO and Director of Meteorology at the Bureau. This has enabled me to confirm that the automatic weather station at Mildura is logging:
1. The last one-second reading in each one-minute period;
2. The highest one-second reading for the previous 60 seconds, and
3. The lowest one-second reading for the previous 60 seconds.
I have corresponded with the Bureau’s CEO, Andrew Johnson, about the current situation. He has assured me that because the electronic probe is housed in a metal sheath which provides thermal mass, each measurement is actually the integration of the previous 40 to 80 seconds. If this is indeed the case, that the electronic probes have been weighted, then the Bureau should perhaps just sample the lowest one-¬second and the highest one¬-second for the agreed interval? Indeed, why log a single last one-second value from each minute – particularly given the equipment is capable of averaging all seconds, or averaging a subsample of all the one-second readings?
I have requested the manufacturer’s specifications, specifically for the probe at Mildura (Rosemount ST2401 S/N – 654). Dr Johnson has not provided this information, insisting that this is not available because the probes are purpose-designed: “The Bureau purpose-designed the temperature sensors to closely mirror the behaviour of mercury in glass thermometers, including the time constant. The manufacturer then manufactured the sensors to the Bureau’s design.”
There is no publicly available documentation for any of the custom-built electronic probes currently used by the Bureau to measure air temperature across Australia.
Furthermore, there are no published studies that provide any indication of the equivalence of measurements from the electronic probes with mercury thermometers, which were used to measure maximum temperatures at all weather stations until at least November 1996.
In order to assess the extent to which the Bureau’s probes actually mirror the behaviour of mercury thermometers, I have requested the relevant internal reports that presumably detail the results from field and laboratory trials. These have not been provided. My husband, Dr John Abbot, has requested the same and this information is the subject of an ongoing freedom-of-information (FOI) request by him, which may yet end-up in the Administrative Appeal Tribunal.
Following two interviews I did with radio broadcaster Alan Jones last year, and at the directive of Minister Frydenberg, I was provided with some information enabling me to obtain parallel data from Mildura late last year. This was provided as thousands of photographed A8 forms with each form including hand-written daily values as recorded from the electronic probe and mercury thermometer in the same equipment shelter at Mildura.
The first years of parallel recordings onto the A8 forms (from November 1996) indicate that the electronic probe first installed at Mildura was recording temperatures that were statistically significantly cooler than the mercury thermometer. This should be of concern, as it would indicate that the extent of global warming was being underestimated and that there was no equivalence between the electronic probes and mercury thermometers with this data incorporated into international databases.
A new probe, the current probe, was installed on 27 June 2012. This is the same probe that measured a much-acclaimed record hot day for the state of Victoria on 23 September 2017- sparking my initial interest in Mildura.
I had initially hoped that there would be parallel data to enable some verification of this record – I had been told by a whistle-blower that Mildura was a site with parallel data. I was subsequently told by Anthony Rea from the Bureau – after the directive given to the Bureau by Minister Frydenberg – that there was parallel data only available through until January 2015.
After scrutiny of the A8 forms actually provided, however, it appeared that the extent of parallel readings for the probe installed on 27 June 2012 would be limited to just the eight months July 2012 to February 2013… except that Dr Rea omitted to provide me with the data for September 2012 – the one month that could provide a direct measure of the equivalence of the relevant probe for that time of year at that location. The residual available parallel data from Mildura as measured by the current electronic probe is missing recordings from the mercury thermometer for the very hottest days as measured by the electronic probe (30 November 2012, 18 January 2013, 5 January 2013, 8 January 2013, 6 January 2013, 1 December 2013, highest to lowest).
In short, it appears that on the hottest days in Mildura – during the period that manual readings were being taken after installation of the most recent probe – no one was turning-up to take the manual reading from the mercury thermometer. As a consequence, the data for this period from the mercury thermometer is not normally distributed. This makes statistical analysis using standard techniques impossible as assumptions implicit, for example in a standard paired T-test, are violated.
The limited parallel data that I have from this probe (currently recording temperatures at Mildura) indicates that, on average, it records temperatures warmer than the mercury thermometer – often up to 0.4 degrees Celsius warmer than the mercury thermometer.
I have communicated this information to Dr Johnson, and he has replied that my sample is inadequate to conclude very much.
Exactly, and this is because the Bureau is not providing me with all the data! So, I would appreciate it if you could ask that he please make the relevant internal reports available and/or provide data from other weather stations for which there is parallel data to enable some proper comparisons and assessment of the Australian-wide system.
I have been reliably informed that there is parallel data (measurements from a mercury thermometer and electronic probe recording in the same shelter) for a further 37 sites, additional to Mildura. I have further been told that this data provides parallel reading to the present for some of these sites. But the Bureau is withholding this information.
In summary, given the intense political interest in climate change with far reaching economic implications, and the relatively recent transition to a very different methods of measuring temperatures (mercury thermometer to electronic probe), it would be assumed that there are dozens of reports published by the Bureau that document how comparable the measurements have proven at different locations, and under different conditions.
Yet there are none! Without independent verification, these temperature recordings of the Bureau are open to dispute and the integrity of the Bureau and the Government is degraded.
I have heard you lament that there is an overwhelming consensus of scientific support for global warming and so we should just get on with solutions. But, without an independent verification of the Bureau’s temperature measurements then those who doubt global warming can easily dismiss the Bureau’s reports as unreliable and incorrect. To help resolve this issue I request that you provide me with the opportunity to present my findings – my evidence – to a relevant committee for proper scrutiny.
Jennifer Marohasy BSc PhD
Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and
Owner-operator at the ClimateLab.com.au
The ACTU’s proposed minimum wage hike would destroy 115,000 jobs, the IPA has calculated based upon modelling developed by economist and Labor MP Andrew Leigh.
The ACTU are claiming that their proposed 7.2 per cent increase in the minimum wage would create 57,000 jobs. Their jobs creation claim is premised on low skilled workers spending more in the economy, and thus creating jobs like a stimulus.
Problematically, however, the ACTU are ignoring the impact of raising the minimum wage on employers. There cannot be more spending in the economy if the jobs and wages do not exist in the first place.
In 2003, then-academic economist and now federal MP, Andrew Leigh used a natural experiment, the decision by Western Australia to independently increase their minimum wage, to determine the impact of minimum wage increases on the Australian economy. Leigh calculated that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage led to a decrease in employment of 1.3 per cent.
Applying Leigh’s modelling to the ACTU’s proposed minimum wage increase would pan out to a 0.9 per cent decrease in employment. Based on current employment figures, that means up to 115,000 fewer jobs.
That is 115,000 fewer Australians having the income and dignity provided by work, being able to provide for their families, and the opportunity to build skills to get better jobs in future. It would also mean tens of thousands more people on unemployment assistance costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
The ACTU’s proposed minimum wage hike would hurt the poorest by taking away their opportunity to get a job.
The Senate is currently running a strange inquiry. It is about the company tax rate, but doesn’t involve the government’s proposal to cut that rate to 25 per cent from 20 per cent. It doesn’t even consider the merits of such a proposal. Rather, it is investigating a statement made by the Business Council of Australia which outlined how major companies, such as Qantas, would increase investment and wages following a cut to the corporate tax rate.
The IPA provided a submission to this truly bizarre inquiry explaining, firstly, why the inquiry itself is bizarre and, secondly, why Australia must cut its high corporate tax rate. Here are some of the highlights. Alternatively, you can read the entire submission here.
“This Senate Inquiry is highly questionable. It refers to an undertaking made by private companies in relation to a public policy. Decisions which companies make around remuneration, pricing, and investment are the preserve of those companies. Businesses are not communal property to be intervened with at will by government. They are privately run, owned, and managed, and should remain so…
“… Every minute that representatives of a business spend before the Senate is a minute that is not dedicated to the core functions of that business, the costs of which are felt most heavily by customers, workers, and shareholders.”
“Australia’s high business tax rate – combined with a $176 billion red tape burden and rigid industrial relations system – is causing business investment to decline. Business investment is just 12 per cent of GDP, which is lower than what it was under Whitlam. Low levels of business investment are contributing to below trend rates of labour productivity growth, which in turn is making workers less valuable than they otherwise would be, which is holding wages growth down. A lower business tax rate, by contrast, will encourage investment, productivity, job creation, and wages growth.”
“The best empirical evidence that is available is from the Treasury which estimated that a reduction to the business tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent would create a permanent increase to GDP of 1 per cent. This equates to around $17 billion each year, in today’s dollars. A separate Treasury report estimated that two-thirds of the benefit of a company tax cut flows through to households, primarily through rises in real wages. The remaining one-third would flow to shareholders”
“Australia’s high business tax rate must be reduced in order to encourage higher levels of business investment, which is currently at a near-record low. The Government’s proposed reduction to 25 per cent over a ten-year period is a modest proposal, which would still result in Australia having one of the highest business tax rates in the developed world. At a bare minimum the Senate should pass the Government’s preferred tax reduction, despite its lack of ambition.”
In 2009 Dennis Prager launched PragerU which creates concise 5 minute videos on complex political, economic, social and cultural issues. PragerU stands by its claim that viewing all of its videos is a better preparation for life today than attending an American university.
The aim of PragerU is the produce videos that provide a better education than that is offered by American universities.
PragerU’s videos have been viewed 1.25 billion times. 60% of viewers are under the age of 35. 70% of viewers have changed their mind on an important issue after watching a PragerU video.
Dennis Prager was born in New York City in 1948 into an Orthodox Jewish family. He led the Brandeis-Bardin Institute from 1976 until 1982 before embarking on his radio career. Dennis hosted the religion program every Sunday on KABC (AM) in Los Angeles and the station’s daily talk show. During this time he published a nationally syndicated column, his own quarterly journal and numerous books on religion, culture, America and the West. Since 1999 he has hosted a nationally syndicated daily talk show from KRLA in Los Angeles.
On 20 March 2018, James Bolt and Peter Greogry interviewed for TheYoung IPA Podcast. There was discussion about the state of free speech around the world, the problem of American universities and the critical distinction between liberalism and leftism. Dennis also spoke about the massive success of Prager U and what the young people that have driven that success are telling him.
Dennis Prager’s Appearance on The Young IPA Podcast – Full Transcript
This is an edited transcript of the discussion.
James Bolt – We are now joined by author, radio host, one of the world’s most influential conservative thinkers and founder of the extremely popular YouTube channel PragerU which has over 1.2 billion total video views, Dennis Prager. Thank you for joining us.
Dennis Prager – I’m delighted to be with you, as you can well imagine.
JB – You are in Melbourne with the United Israel Appeal which brings together people to raise money and awareness for the disadvantaged and underprivileged in Israel. Why is the United Israel Appeal’s cause so important to you?
DP – I believe Israel is the moral litmus test, a role that the Jews have played historically. It is a lousy role to play, being the canary in the mine – you die as soon as there are noxious fumes, and then the miners know ‘Oh, there are noxious fumes, we have to fight them’ – and the Jews are playing the role of the canary. Israel is the only State on earth targeted for extinction. Unless one believes in tremendous coincidence, it is not a coincidence that the only State targeted for extinction is also the only Jewish state. Jew-hatred has simply morphed from the individual to the State. You don’t get many people who hate every Jew like the Nazis did, instead you have people who hate the Jewish state. It has simply gone from micro to macro.
It is an amazing thing. Israel is smaller than El Salvador, and the United Nations has spent more time condemning Israel than any other country on earth. So, it is an existential battle for Israel’s existence, and I feel a moral obligation to make people aware of that.
Peter Gregory – Your video on the Arab-Israeli Conflict was, I believe, the most popular PragerU video on YouTube, is that correct?
DP – YouTube, yes, but not overall. Believe it or not, as it happens the most popular video, which hit over 50 million views, is on something that would have no interest to you as non-Americans, and that is about the American electoral college. We don’t vote by direct popular vote; we vote by state. If you win the state by 10 votes, you win all the electoral votes of that state. The founders of the United States wanted states to retain power, not just gigantic cities. That would end all elections, in effect. Nobody would campaign in smaller states. You just win California, New York and you’ve basically done all you need to do.
JB – I guess candidates are still not campaigning in smaller states…
DP – Well, Hillary Clinton found out that was a mistake. Michigan, Pennsylvania and so on. I mean they’re not small states, by any means, but they’re smaller than the big ones. In any event, right after the Trump election there was such an outcry on the left against the electoral college. People wanted to know where they could go on the internet to find reasons for it. Bravo, we were there, already having made two by a woman who works very diligently on this subject – Tara Ross – and it went viral, super viral, hyper viral. We are convinced that it changed the polls in the country in a few weeks. Given that 50 million people in America – at least – saw the video, it clearly had an impact.
The second, interestingly is ‘Did Slavery Cause the American Civil War?’ We had a Professor of History at the US Military Academy, West Point, give the course, and of course the answer is ‘yes.’ That’s the reason the South seceded: Slavery. Interestingly, the left loves us for that video, and I’m not quite sure why. Who really has denied that it was slavery? I don’t know if it’s a left/right issue, but the left says ‘well, if there’s one thing Prager University got right, it’s the Civil War video.’ Ok, fine.
JB – The video on the Middle-Eastern conflict is very popular. Why do you think that video has caught so many people’s imaginations? The ideas that you said there sound basic when you say them, but they’re clearly very revolutionary to some people.
DP – Well I think you answered it in the last sentence. They’re revolutionary to many people. The propaganda against Israel saturates the Western world – and the whole world, you can drown in it. I debated this at Oxford, in another video that is very popular. It’s not a PragerU video, it’s just my video at Oxford. Believe it or not, the topic I debated at Oxford at the famous Oxford Union was ‘who is the greater obstacle to Middle East peace, Israel or Hamas?’ As I said at Oxford it would be as if in the late 1930s there was a debate at Oxford, ‘Who was a greater obstacle to European peace, Hitler or Churchill?’ Who would vote Churchill?
And yet, this was a debate at Oxford and indeed the other side that said Israel was the bigger obstacle. I pointed this out: For the first time in history a democratic, free country was voted the reason for war, not the totalitarian terror state. There is almost literally a broken moral compass. So, if somebody comes along and just clearly says ‘wait a minute, black is black, white is white, green is green and yellow is yellow,’ and if it’s done logically – which is all I work on, logic and reason – it obviously will have a following. And my thesis in that video, is one side wants the other side dead. That’s the line I keep showing. And that’s the case. If Israel disarmed tomorrow, saying ‘we are burning all our armaments and we will fight no longer,’ what would happen? The next day there would be a genocide. If you deny that you are lying to yourself. You are irredeemable if you deny that.
JB – And history shows that so often…
DP – Oh but that’s what they want! They want genocide in Israel. The rape and torture and murder would be Holocaustian. But now imagine if the Palestinians and Hezbollah and Hamas said ‘you know what, we’re burning all our armaments and we will fight no more.’ What would happen the next day in that case? Peace! Peace. If that doesn’t persuade someone what the cause of war is, nothing will.
PG – I’m glad you mentioned Oxford University because we want to talk about one of your favourite topics which is free speech, and particularly free speech on university campuses. We have seen a decline of free speech across the Western world. Why do you think that is?
DP – The left has never valued freedom. Liberals have valued freedom. I make a very strong distinction – and I think all of us who are not on the left must – between liberals and leftists. Liberals are pro-free speech. Leftists have never been, because they are not for any form of freedom. Leftism is as totalitarian as a country will allow it to be. It isn’t always totalitarian, because it doesn’t have the power. But where it has the power, it suppresses those with whom it differs. Period. Or you would say ‘full stop,’ right?
PG – We would say full stop.
DP – So I’ll say ‘full stop’ too.
PG – It took me ages to work out what period meant.
DP – I can imagine. I studied in England for a year, I picked up a lot. This is why the university is so repressed. And I tell people who are in the middle, ‘all you need to know about the left is the university. See what they do when other people say things.’
You guys need to follow Amy Wax. She is a Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania is considered one of the Ivy League universities, so it’s one of the most prestigious in the United States. She wrote a piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer – the University of Pennsylvania is in Philadelphia – with another law professor from San Diego that in fact America did well by having middle class bourgeois values, and that they are basic liberal values. Obviously, freedom is an example, but another example is people should get married and they should also have a child after they get married. Marriage was valued, having children after marriage was valued, hard work was valued, and these values are good, and we need them again. We need them reinstated, as it were.
She was condemned by half of her fellow professors at the University of Pennsylvania faculty, and now – and you can read a Wall Street Journal editorial on this – she also said that affirmative action does not help blacks, and that is why the black graduation rate is lower than others. Because by changing and lowering standards for black students you have made it much harder for them to do well, as it would be true for me or anybody. If you lower standards to accept me, I wouldn’t do so well. And Black Lives Matter, which is a truly fascistic, violent movement, has said – and I’m paraphrasing – ‘we warn the University of Pennsylvania if you do not fire this professor, we will disrupt your campus.’
We are a week away from the deadline, but this is what the left does. Black Lives Matter, which is a truly dangerous organisation to liberty and indeed to human life, I believe, is a hero of the left. They have been given $100 million by left wing organisations, by either the Ford Foundation or another one, I mean even the so called ‘mainstream’ organisations. So the university reflects the left’s suppression of free speech and of freedom generally. And why do they do it? Because they can’t win on the merits of argument.
PG – You mentioned in this speech that you made recently to the Conservative College Students Action Summit this distinction between leftism and liberals, which I thought was really interesting. Do you mind going through that again for our listeners?
DP – Freedom of speech is one perfect example of a left/liberal difference. The most dramatic is race. Many American campuses have a black dormitory, an all-black dorm. You have to be black to live in that dormitory. This is the antithesis of liberalism which believed in racial integration, which believed the ideal is to be colour blind. The left is the antithesis of colour blind. The left is the most race-honouring ideology since the Nazis. Now, I’m not comparing them to the Nazis, they’re not building concentration camps or gas chambers, I know that. But in terms of race, the last big ideology to honour race was Nazism. And now the left, they honour race.
There is a list – people can follow my tweets and they can see this list, I actually put it out in a tweet last week – from the University of California of what are called ‘micro-aggressions.’ Statements people make that they may not think are racist but really are. Here is an example: If someone says ‘I only believe in one race, the human race,’ that is a micro-aggression. To the left, to say that ‘there is only one race, the human race,’ – what is a beautiful concept, what is a beautiful liberal concept and conservative one – that is now considered racist. That is a classic liberal/left difference. It’s embodied in a man – who I’m sure is known to some Australians – Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University, lifelong democrat, lifelong Hillary Clinton supporter – well not lifelong, but as long as she’s been in politics – and liberal. And he said, and it will be in a film that Adam Carolla and I are putting out called No Safe Spaces so you will see it, but I play it on my radio show – which by the way, anyone in Australia can hear if they just listen to the app. You don’t want to listen to it live it’s 3am Australian time.
PG – You got up for that this morning didn’t you?
DP – I did indeed.
PG – That’s commitment.
DP – It was commitment and I kept saying it to my audience, ‘God, am I committed to you.’ Anyway, Dershowitz said, ‘I’m a lifelong liberal democrat and my enemy is the left, not the conservative, not the right.’ Liberals do not understand that the enemy of liberalism is not conservatism – the enemy of liberalism is leftism.
PG – I think that’s actually an emerging trend, there are more lifelong left wing academics and commentators who are coming out against what we call ‘identity politics’ and leftism.
DP – Good, I hope you’re right! Identity politics is racism. It is a cute word for racism.
JB – Going back to your point that it is now considered a micro-aggression to say that you only believe in one race – the human race – you pointed out in a recent debate at UC Berkeley that had that been the predominant view of people in the 1600s and 1700s, there probably wouldn’t have been a slave trade, which I think is such an interesting thing. It’s now considered racist what would have destroyed one of the most racist things ever done.
DP – That’s correct. If everybody believed there was only one race, you could not have justified black slavery.
JB – Not at all. Also in that debate-
DP – Thank you by the way for reminding me, it was a good point!
JB – It blew me away.
DP – I forget a lot of my good points, so thank you.
JB – I was watching the video going ‘yeah I need to use that, I’m going to steal that.’
DP – Yes, steal it, enjoy it.
JB – Alright, cool. Just for our viewers and listeners that haven’t seen it yet, about four days ago they released a video of a debate you had with two students at UC Berkeley. You raised the topic that conservative students are now too scared to speak in universities and the students brought up that if it was true for conservatives then it was just as true for people on the left. I was kind of getting the feel from them that no conservative student had ever come up to them in private and said to them that they really felt out of it in class or they didn’t feel like they could contribute. So what do you say to the way conservative students are now so silenced that even their friends aren’t aware they’re being silenced, the marginalisation is getting that bad?
DP – I write a weekly syndicated column in the US which is obviously on the internet so anyone can read it, and I wrote about this. I taught Jewish History at Brooklyn College – that was my first full time job – and I wrote a book on anti-Semitism, so I know a lot about that subject. There is a name that most Jews are aware of, but most non-Jews are not. It’s called Marrano. Marrano is a Spanish name for Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which went for about three hundred years but was at its height at the end of the 15th century. Jews would hide their ‘being Jewish’ at home, not tell anyone, and they would act Catholic publicly. What we have in America today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you have it here as well, is Marranos who are conservative. On the outside, they are just like everyone else, and privately they’re conservative, or even – God forbid – a Trump supporter.
Let me give you a really dramatic example. I conduct orchestras as an avocation. I love music, and I’m obviously immersed in it. So last year, I conducted the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was a great honour for me and it was a great night. There were charges made against me of being a racist and fascist. ‘How could an orchestra play for a racist and fascist?’ Because any conservative is. So, you’re not even allowed to conduct an orchestra if you’re a conservative. The New York Times covered this ‘controversy’ of a conservative conducting the orchestra of a very left wing city at a major concert hall. It was a hatchet job piece, and I wrote about how they report things in another article.
I received letter after letter, email after email, from members of orchestras all across America. I know orchestras – the biggest orchestras, the most famous, most prestigious. ‘Dear Mr Prager, I just want you to know I am a Marrano in my own orchestra.’ A violist from one of the most prestigious orchestras in the country – obviously I won’t mention her name – has been a violist for 40 years, said ‘none of the members of the orchestra know that I am conservative.’
PG – That’s pretty telling.
JB – Yes.
PG – We, as in the Institute of Public Affairs, get contacted by academics in Australia, saying that they are conservative, and they are so glad there is one organisation that makes those comments, but none of their colleagues know either that they are a conservative.
DP – That’s right, that’s exactly right. So you have it here? I would assume.
PG – Definitely, absolutely. Anyway let’s talk about something slightly more optimistic. Prager University is obviously wildly, wildly popular. 1.2 billion views, and 60% of those views are people under the age of 35 I believe. So there’s PragerU, and then we have people like Jordan Peterson who are also very wildly popular with young people. Do you see young people actually wanting to be challenged and wanting to hear these kind of ideas?
DP – Actually yes. Just let me explain because I also do a lot of work on happiness. I’ve written a book on it and I do an hour of my show a week since 1999 on happiness. It’s a very important subject to me, because I think it’s a moral attribute not just an emotional state. There are two definitions for optimist if you look in the dictionary, it’s very interesting. Definition number one is: ‘One who believes everything will turn out well.’ I am not definition one.
PG – Ok.
DP – But definition two I am and that is: ‘One who sees the positive in any given situation.’ So I am about to tell you that I am optimistic – guardedly – on number one vis-à-vis the next generation, in the sense that if we can get to them they’re open to hearing. Not all. Many have been truly indoctrinated in America beginning in elementary school. I don’t know what the term you use for first school is?
JB – Primary school.
DP – Primary school, yes. And then what do you say for high school?
JB – High school.
DP – High school as well. So, I’ve now begun to say on my radio show that high schools are actually worse than universities right now. At least at a University every so often a speaker will turn up who is a conservative. There may be riots, but he or she shows up. I am very rarely invited to high schools, I’m regularly invited to universities. I spoke on happiness at a prestigious high school where I live in southern California, and it took years to get permission, and I spoke on happiness! And that was controversial!
But if we can get to them, they will say ‘that makes sense.’ That’s all I ask. I am conservative because it makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to raise the minimum wage and have more people go out of business so they hire fewer people and then the government supports more people. That’s the only reason I’m against keeping on increasing the minimum wage.
I have to tell you, I am tweeting out a picture from one of your trams. I just took it yesterday, I took this picture, tell me if you’re familiar with it. It’s some guy, an angry guy, and it’s about the horrible notion that medical care should be for profit. Have you seen that?
JB – I haven’t seen the ad but I’ve heard of this.
DP – I’m tweeting it out to the United States. That is a classic example. In other words, it is a bad idea for people to make money helping people medically. Do you know how stupid that is? It is just stupid! It is immoral and stupid! So let me ask them a question: If it is immoral to make money on people’s health care, why is it moral to make money on people’s food?
PG – That’s right.
DP – You need food more than healthcare. Or housing, and the truth is they don’t believe you should make money on those things! They find all of that noxious. They don’t think, they feel.
To understand the left, all one must understand is they do not think they feel. ‘I feel for the poor,’ ‘I feel for the indigenous people,’ ‘I feel for blacks,’ ‘I feel for the Palestinians.’ ‘What is right?’ is not a left wing question. ‘Whom do you feel for?’ is the question.
JB – With young people at the moment, a theme that comes up on this podcast a lot is that the revolutionary position or that teenage rebellion is to actually be conservative or classical liberal when it was to be left for so long.
DP – Well, I’m not that optimistic. I hope you’re right. I believe the left is involved in child abuse. First of all, by telling boys and girls you are not a boy or you are not a girl until you affirm it later in life. I’m sure it’s true here, but I know it’s true in the United States that teachers are told not to call first graders – 6 year olds – boys and girls. You can’t impose a gender identity. In the New York Subway system, our tube in New York… do you say Subway or Tube for the train?
PG – Just ‘the train.’
DP – Neither! The underground train in New York, the New York Subway system, along with the Tube in London, they no longer make announcements ‘ladies and gentleman.’
JB – Our national airline carrier has made the same announcement last week, they are going to stop referring to passengers as ‘ladies and gentleman.’
DP – Is that right?
JB – Yes.
DP – What, Qantas?
JB – Yes.
DP –Virgin Australia?
JB – I don’t know if Virgin’s done it.
DP – I expected it from Qantas, yes. That’s astonishing. So what are they going to ask then on passports? ‘With what gender do you identify? Male? Female? None? Non-binary? Cis-gender?’ What will Qantas do now?
JB – I wasn’t in that meeting so I don’t know what they’ve decided on but we’ll let you know.
DP – By the way, it is not only abusive of children. It’s a beautiful thing to be a boy or a girl. That there is a tiny percent, tiny infinitesimal percentage of humanity that has gender dysphoria, is a tragedy, but you don’t abolish the notion of gender because of that. There is an absurdity at the root of this, because even the transgender identify as a gender. A transgender identifies as a boy or a girl, almost nobody identifies as neither. And because of them I’m not going to change the world. So even for the transgendered it doesn’t make sense to abolish ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ The transgender does think of him or herself as a lady or a gentleman.
JB – And in fact, in many cases they’d be relieved that someone finally referred to them as a man or a woman.
DP – Yes exactly!
PG – Be that as it may, does the digital revolution provide opportunities to reach young people in a new way?
DP – Completely. This is a gift from heaven. However, I am deeply worried about Google, which owns YouTube. We are in a lawsuit against them because they have put 40 of our 300 videos on the restricted list, which means libraries cannot show them, schools cannot show them, and any parent that blocks pornography can’t show them. We have a history of the Korean War banned, what’s pornographic about that? One of the most mild-mannered historians in America, Victor Davis Hanson, gives the course.
JB – He’s a handsome man.
DP – Yes he is.
JB – And you were just saying before, even customs officials in Australia are able to reach your videos in ways that would never have happened 20 years ago.
DP – That’s the gift, that’s why I mentioned to you I’m speaking in Romania, I think before we got on the air.
PG – Yes.
DP – Oh I’ve gotten invitations, and it’s all from young people. Do you know what I get the most from young people? And this is just what I get, PragerU gets fifty times more than I personally get. The thing that I most often get is ‘this is the first time I have heard a way of looking at reality that is not left-wing.’ They didn’t know it existed.
PG – Yes.
DP – A young man from Venezuela called my radio show – he listens in Venezuela – and he said ‘I just want you to know I didn’t know there was an alternative to the left, because in Venezuela if you run against the left, you’re just another leftist.’ He opened my eyes to that fact. Venezuela has been truly destroyed by the left. It was a wealthy country, relatively speaking, in Latin America. And first Chavez and now Maduro has ruined the country. There’s opposition to Maduro, but it’s another left-winger.
So in other words, the reason for the cancer is never identified. It is as if ‘oh Maduro and Chavez, they’re awful, but leftism is beautiful.’ That’s the thinking!
Then the Pope. The Pope is a left-wing thinker with Catholic theology. He is indistinguishable from any leftist. Indistinguishable. But he also happens to believe in the Virgin Birth, and in the Catholic Catechism obviously and other things that are specifically religious. But his values are one hundred percent Latin American left.
JB – Let’s talk about PragerU, obviously we’ve been referring to it a lot, and hopefully our listeners and viewers are already fans, and if not, go out and search for it. It’s been wildly popular, what do you think explains this popularity and did you expect it?
DP – In my book on happiness called Happiness is a Serious Problem I have a chapter on expectations. I said if you have high expectations you’ll never be grateful, so drop all your expectations and then you’ll be grateful because you can’t be happy if you’re not grateful. Gratitude is the mother of happiness. So I have no expectations in life. Every day I wake up healthy I go ‘Wow.’ I really mean it. I learned this in my third year in University. I studied in England, and I studied among other things comparative religion, and my professor was an Englishman who became a Buddhist, Trevor Ling.
He wrote a major work on religion, and he said ‘all pain in life comes from desires and expectations not fulfilled.’ So therefore the Buddhist aim is to drop all desires and expectations. I don’t believe in dropping desires, I think it’s a healthy thing. But expectations? He changed my life in a day, I’ve never had expectations since.
If someone had said to me ‘Prager University will have six hundred-million views in a year,’ I would have laughed. I would have said ‘that is absurd, I will thank God if we have six million.’ I didn’t even think of sixty million, only because I don’t have expectations. Now that it has happened, it does make sense. It’s very rational – no yelling, very professionally done, tremendous amount of work in every video. There are editors after editors, I am involved in the writing of every single video, and we have terrific people giving them. The illustrators are geniuses in my opinion.
JB – Yes.
DP – They are, there’s no question about it. I give them half the credit. And Allen Estrin – the man whose idea it was – he realised five minutes is the perfect length. And for those who think you can’t get important points across in five minutes, they’re entirely wrong. It is an incredibly long period of time for wisdom. You can’t get how red blood cells operate in five minutes, but we don’t give courses on the human body and biology we give courses on wisdom. Of which there is none at the universities.
PG – In reading about PragerU a lot of pieces noted that there is not much material about US President Donald Trump at the moment, is that deliberate?
DP – It is deliberate, we are not overtly political. We want to influence your way of thinking and then you will translate that into the directly political. But we do have ‘What’s the difference between left and right,’ I give those in fact, it’s a serious of courses, differences between left and right. You can differ with me all you like, obviously, and people do.
I get this very often. I’m stopped regularly by people who recognise me and say something sweet, and they say – men as well – ‘Dennis I really love you.’ It’s very sweet when they say that, I’m very touched. But then they say ‘but you hear that all the time.’ And I say to them ‘actually I don’t hear that all the time – just google ‘Dennis Prager’ and ‘a-hole’ and you will get at least fifty-thousand hits.’ So, there are a lot of people who can’t stand what I’m doing and saying.
Mother Jones, one of the leading left wing – that’s not even liberal – left wing magazines in the United States just did a very long piece on me and PragerU. They obviously differed with stuff, but it wasn’t a hit piece, to their credit. And they noted that we are changing millennials’ minds. They said ‘if you’re not aware of what PragerU is doing, you’re really out of it. They are changing minds.’ And we want to change minds. That is important, otherwise we lose.’
PG – You did a poll and I think it was 59% of people who had watched a PragerU video changed their mind on an issue, is that correct?
DP – I don’t remember the specific, but yes there was that poll done. There were a few things asked: ‘Did it affect the way you voted?’ So I don’t want to misquote the number, but it was substantial.
PG – And of course sixty percent of your viewers are below 35.
DP – And that’s not our statistic, that’s from Facebook and YouTube.
PG – Extraordinary.
JB – So you bought up just before that people have said you can’t get these important issues across in five minutes, whereas I think the predominating view of online videos is the shorter the better, as if you were supposed to get it down to two or three minutes.
DP – I think five is critical. There is no law in physics that says this, but I think under five, it’s possible. But we have found that five is seven-hundred and fifty words. Seven-hundred and fifty words is the length of a serious column. I don’t think any columnist would argue that they can’t influence a reader in their column. Why the hell are they writing columns then? Obviously they think that. People think you can change minds in a tweet. I don’t buy that. I tweet to offer evidence of a certain point, but I like to develop an idea.
PG – Well, we have about five minutes left, so maybe we could use that time to talk about Western Civilisation. What does the phrase ‘Western Civilisation’ mean to you and why is it so important?
DP – This is so painful a topic. What civilisation abolished slavery? Let’s begin with that. Slavery was universal. Universal. By the way, human sacrifice was universal. The Hebrew Bible abolished human sacrifice. It was the first religious or cultural text to abolish it completely. It did not happen elsewhere.
Then slavery. Everyone had slavery. So the question is not ‘why did America or Britain have slavery?,’ the question is ‘who abolished it?’ It’s like the question about poverty. Poverty was ubiquitous, it was universal. So the only question is not ‘why did America or Australia or anybody else have poverty?,’ the question is ‘why is there affluence?’ You have to explain affluence, not poverty. You have to explain the abolition of slavery, not slavery.
Western Civilisation alone abolished slavery on any large level. Western Civilisation alone gave women human rights. You can go down the list. It gave democracy. So I want to protect this. Human life is infinitely precious in Western Civilisation. Of course Western Civilisation had anti-Western things – Communism and Nazism hated Western Civilisation. That Westerners went along with it is a disgrace on their name, there’s no question about that. But they’re not Western civilizational ideas, they are anti-West.
The President of the United States was in Warsaw last year, he gave a speech and he said we have to protect Western Civilisation, and the New York Times and all of the American media and I’m sure Australian and I’m sure British and I’m sure German and French media, all said, this was really a ‘dog whistle.’ A hidden sign for white supremacy. So now the left equates Western Civilisation with white, which is exactly what the white supremacists say. That’s the irony! The left and the white supremacists are in agreement on almost all: The white supremacists want separate dorms for blacks, the white supremacists equate the West with white. I’m just curious, were the Nazis not white? How do you equate ‘white’ and ‘West’? The Nazis were white, the Communists were white.’
So we are safe-guarding not just Western Civilisation but its basis which is Judeo-Christian. Here, by the way, I do unfortunately differ from a lot of other fellow conservatives. They think that religion is as unnecessary to liberty and morality as the left does. So I’m fighting that battle as well, and I give a number of courses on God and morality at Prager University, and my book is just about to come out – the first volume of my commentary on the first five books of the Bible, called The Rational Bible, where I want to change secular conservatives’ ideas about the irrelevance of the Bible.
JB – Absolutely. Dennis, thank you so much for your time, that was such a great chat.
DP – It’s an honour to be with you.
JB – So once again thank you to United Israel Appeal for granting us the time for the interview, and thank you so much.
A Report Into Religious Liberty In Australia: Provided To The Religious Freedom Review Expert Panel, by Institute of Public Affairs Research Fellow, Morgan Begg, was reported by The Australian Newspaper yesterday.
But the Institute of Public Affairs’ director of policy, Simon Breheny, told the government’s Religious Freedom Review, chaired by Phillip Ruddock, this would be a mistake.
“The law is not the friend of freedom,” Mr Breheny said, adding that religious freedom was a “bundle of rights”, encompassing freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of worship. “It’s important that each of these rights is protected if religious liberty is to be given full expression,” Mr Breheny said.
He said this should be done by dismantling laws that violated these freedoms, such as section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of a person’s race or ethnic origin.