Welcome to Freedom to Choose 2018:
Would a Plucked Goose Still Lay Golden Eggs?
Freedom to Choose is an annual one-day economics conference that is devoted to appraising the costs and benefits of pursuing free-market policies. There is a particular focus on placing free-market ideas in their historical context and the role economists should play in policy formation. The invited conference speakers are encouraged to adopt a critical, scholarly and non-ideological stance when considering these issues. Dissent is encouraged from both the floor and the podium.
The Freedom to Choose conference in 2018 is devoted to analysing the wisdom of Australian governments levying surplus or rent taxes in the resource industries, with a focus on the plan to impose the resource super profit tax (RSPT) in 2010 as a case study. The title of this year’s conference draws on the famous observation by John-Baptiste Colbert, the minister of finance in the reign of Louis XIV, that the “art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing”. A surplus tax levied in the resource sector offers, at least to the untrained eye, the prospect of a particularly large increase in state revenues without undermining the incentives to undertake economic activity. The imposition of such a tax is also seen as politically palatable because there is a community perception that companies are gaining something for nothing in the process of exploiting a resource that is owned by all. These issues will be considered from a range of different disciplinary perspectives, including economics, politics, accounting and history. An effort will also be made to compare the impact of surplus taxes, such as the RSPT tax, with the impact of other tax proposals, both in the resource sector and in markets more generally.
The conference is specifically designed for undergraduate, honours and postgraduate students, but all interested parties are welcome. Forums will also be provided at the conference in which students can interact with established economists to discuss the wisdom of pursuing honours and postgraduate qualifications in the discipline of economics, as well as careers in economics generally.
It is to be held on Friday 29 June 2018 on the Fremantle Campus of The University of Notre Dame, Australia. The invited speakers include Henry Ergas (The Australian), David Gilchrist (UWA), Paul Kelly (Editor-at-Large, The Australian), Peter Hartley (Rice University), and Jonathan Pincus (University of Adelaide).