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Reproducing a Grattan Institute map

Thank you to Monica for her helpful edits. Introduction The Grattan Institute is an Australian think tank that produces reports about public policy. Last week they released ‘Regional patterns of Australia’s economy and population’. That report looks into the differences between geographic areas across various economic and demographic variables. It includes interactive maps made using Carto. The Grattan Institute also released the datasets that underpin the report’s maps and graphs.

Getting started with Blogdown

Thank you to Minhee Chae and Peter Gibbard for helpful comments. Introduction Blogdown is a package that allows you to make websites (not just blogs, notwithstanding its name) largely within R Studio. It builds on Hugo, which is a popular tool for making websites. Blogdown lets you freely and quickly get a website up-and-running. It is easy to add content from time-to-time. It integrates with R Markdown which lets you easily share your work.

Mapping the 2016 Australian election polling place results

The note that follows introduces Australia’s political system, and then details the process of downloading and merging first-preference votes by polling place, and then plotting it on an interactive map. Australia’s political system In 2016 Australia’s federal government was determined by the outcomes of elections in 150 divisions which each elected one member to the lower house. The Liberal/National Coalition won 76 seats which allowed it to form a majority government; while the Labor party won 69 seats to form the Opposition; the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team each won one seat; and there were two Independent members (Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan).

Greitens reports for duty

Eric Greitens may be the Republican Übermensch. Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL officer, husband and father. He’s now the Republican candidate in the Missouri gubernatorial election. And one suspects that being a governor could just be a step for Greitens. While 2016 will always be the year that US politics descended to the gutter, it could also be the year that the next Republican president begins his political career. It is easy to imagine Eric Greitens as a senior at Duke University as he entered the boxing ring for his Golden Gloves bout.

Professional Amateurs

Despite many unforced errors Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination and polls suggest she will beat Donald Trump. But her campaign continues to make unforced errors. There was plenty of evidence of an amateur nature to what should be a professional campaign at a recent rally for Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The wait for Tim Kaine was around three hours. That’s not unusual. But it meant the campaign had three hours in which no one was able to walk away or claim they had somewhere else to be.

Trump, revisited

(Comment 4 July 2017: Like much of my writing about Trump, the opinions here haven’t aged too well. Nonetheless, I learnt a lot from writing this and later from thinking about why I went wrong.) A few notes and photos from a Trump rally in Indiana earlier this week. The focus is on whether Trump ‘could’ win the election in November. In the interest of transparency, it’s worth acknowledging that I didn’t think Trump could win the Republican nomination.

Notes and photos from Iowa

Sincere thanks to Bec, Callam, Monica, and Owen for reading and improving these notes. Bernie Sanders seems quite reasonable for a revolutionary. An energetic man of 74, he spoke for an hour in Perry, Iowa, to a room of 300 from only a few lines of handwritten notes, and then fielded half an hour of questions. He does not have the same aura that surrounded, then, Senator Obama in his own Iowa battle with, then, Senator Clinton in 2008 say those who saw both.

Prepare For Future Economic Crises Now

Originally published in the Canberra Times. Few policymakers were prepared for the financial crisis of 2007-08. Until it hit, their focus was on more obvious threats to the economy, instead of such an unexpected event. Could this be because planning for unexpected economic events is not the explicit responsibility of any particular policy- maker? If so, this has to change. After the collapse of the US housing market, Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy became an economic Rorschach test.

In Appreciation of Ronald Coase

Ronald Coase, one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, passed away in 2013 aged 102. Reading his papers today, I wonder whether he’d have become an economist if he were making that decision now. Coase began his career by publishing ‘The Nature of the Firm’ in 1937. That article reported the results of Coase’s year-long study of American firms while he was an undergraduate at the London School of Economics (LSE).

I’ll Have What They’re Having

Some accuse the Rich White Males from San Francisco’s Bay Area of only making products for other Rich White Males. But that neglects the fact that what they want is sometimes also what the rest of us want. For instance, in the case of Facebook, Rich White Males wanted an easy way to communicate with their friends and family. Facebook is a success because others want this too. In the case of Uber, a taxi alternative, Rich White Males wanted frictionless transport.