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Drinks

Let them have fun

“Nothing good happens after 3 am,” Auckland’s top-ranking police officer once said.“Facts tend to be overanalysed,” his Wellingtonian counterpart claimed.Unfortunately, personal opinions and anecdotal evidence like this about opening hours and alcohol licences of bars and party venues often decide the direction of policy proposals for regulating the night-time economy. Yet, such arbitrary behaviour is typical – abroad and in New Zealand.For example, in 2014 the government of New South Wales introduced new controls for the nightlife across large parts... Read more

Natanael Rother
Insights Newsletter
14 June, 2019
Checkout

A penny for your thoughts

Once upon a time, the pursuit of happiness was a personal duty. Not anymore. We now have politicians ready to nudge us in the right direction. Earlier this month, a group of British MPs made a formal proposal to charge shoppers an extra penny to use self-checkout machines. This policy, so they promised, would “counteract potential damage caused by a lack of everyday contact between people”. Read more

Dr Patrick Carvalho
Insights Newsletter
31 May, 2019
social media buttons

Fighting the whack-a-mole online battle

Last week, a group of 17 countries along with leading social media platforms signed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Christchurch Call “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online”.The non-binding three-page document is inspiringly pragmatic, combining aspirational actions without falling for heavy-handed (and misguided) regulations.Kudos to the international initiative. There is indeed much to celebrate about such a concerted effort against the spread of online radicalism.But we must not lose sight of the implementation hurdles ahead – and keep working for... Read more

Dr Patrick Carvalho
Insights Newsletter
24 May, 2019
Game of thrones winter

“Winter is Coming”

Being an economist is great. But there is a downside. A lot of people wind up annoyed by some parts of fantasy worlds in books and movies, but economists get annoyed by very different things.HBO’s Game of Thrones finally ended this week. The last two seasons brought increasing fan annoyance: the plotting and pace made far less sense than in prior seasons.For those who haven’t followed, Game of Thrones largely takes place on the continent of Westeros, in a fantasy... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
24 May, 2019
Jonathan Haidt

Disagree more constructively

When US psychologist Jonathan Haidt published The Righteous Mind in 2012, he himself may not have known how prescient it would be. The book’s subtitle is Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Though such divisions were clearly visible even then, they were just a foretaste of what was to come. Trump, Brexit and the global surge of populism have created more politically divided societies than at any time during the past half century. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
3 May, 2019
Bootcamp

Spanking another dodgy stat

It’s too easy for bad statistics to influence policy. About a decade ago, BERL added up every dollar spent by heavier drinkers, counted some other costs twice, and claimed that alcohol use cost New Zealand $4.8 billion per year. The number still floats around when someone wants to justify the next round of restrictions on drinking. So I pay a bit of attention to dodgy-looking statistics.The Los Angeles Times last week reported on Chinese youth boot camps encouraging boys to... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
3 May, 2019
Hipster

Hipsters need nametags

Wellington is a small place. Everybody complains they’re always running into people they know, that it’s hard for young people to date people who haven’t been dated by their friends already, and that it’s impossible to have an impromptu coffee at Astoria without being recognised by some journalist. Maybe that’s what’s behind the hipster drive for anonymity through identical non-conformity. Two weeks ago, MIT Technology Review wrote a piece explaining an older research article claiming to show why non-conformists, hipsters... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
15 March, 2019

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