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When public investment in a development like Sydney’s Northern Beaches Hospital boosts land values, who should reap those gains: the community or individual owners? NSW Premier's Office/AAP

Tax on ‘unearned gains’ is the missing piece of the affordable housing puzzle

Who is entitled to the increase in value created by planning approvals, new infrastructure, population growth or urban development? For John Stuart Mill, the answer would have been the community.
19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill was a leading thinker on free speech. London Stereoscopic Company

Explainer: what is free speech?

The concept of 'free speech' is devilishly difficult, and depends greatly on a person's political and philosophical viewpoint.
Libertarians have a deeply atomising picture about communities, states, even about what it is to be human. Ars Electronica/Flickr

Is the ‘nanny state’ so bad? After all, voters expect governments to care

David Leyonhjelm's parliamentary inquiry into what he calls “the nanny state” reflects a view of human beings as essentially independent individuals. But that's not kind of society most of us want.
Stéphane Charbonnier’s Charlie Hebdo offended people of all religions, but when does causing offence become unethical? EPA/Yoan Valat

How do we decide if offending someone is unethical or not?

Causing offence to others often causes hurt. Such actions have been condemned as unethical, even immoral behaviour in a civilised society. There have been many examples. The Bill Henson photographs of…
If you treat smoking as a purely personal choice you’re not giving enough weight to the impact of dying young. stolenscript/Flickr

Fuming with outrage: Nazis, nannies and smoking

A few years ago I saw a poster stuck to the wall of a train station in Copenhagen. The poster was a protest paid for by a prominent Danish musician against new regulations against smoking in public. At…

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