Geoff Hogbin

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Geoff Hogbin is a Chicago educated Hayek economist based in Sydney, Australia, who also worked for the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) and its sister organisation, the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Both of these organisations received annual tobacco grants, and they also took commissions from tobacco companies to run special operations -- usually without revealing that the tobacco industry was in anyway involved.

He also ran a contracting company in Sydney, Hogbin Ercole & Associates.

In December 1993 Hogbin set up a Regulatory Review Unit at the Sydney Centre for Independent Studies headquarters (nominally run by the IPA) and in 1994 he had a hand in setting up the Melbourne (anti-)Regulatory Unit and a parallel operation, known as "OverRuled"(run by journalist Dennis Pryor) which was designed to generate a coalition of companies with regulatory problems to coordinate the fight against some State and Federal regulatory agencies. [1]

In 1998, Hogbin was also commissioned by the tobacco industry to act as an organiser and tour guide for W. Kip Viscusi from the US Duke University (where he held a chair endowed by the tobacco industry) on a tour of the main Australian east-coast centers, talking to academics and the media. [[2]] and [[3]]

Viscusi had both legal and economics credentials (and also a sinecure at Harvard Law School) was promoted by the tobacco industry as an expert on 'risk analysis'. He proclaimed the idea that passive smoking did not represent a significant risk to non-smokers, and that smokers were not a financial burden on the non-smoking population ... and therefore cigarette excise tax increases were not justified.

The former ALP federal finance minister Peter Walsh, and Viscusi told an Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) conference on government regulation yesterday that anti-smoking warnings were misleading. Walsh said used car dealers or real estate agents who used the same "shonky" advertising as government sponsored anti-smoking campaigns would probably be prosecuted, and that the warnings given in anti-smoking television advertisements were meaningless.

The conference, sponsored by tobacco giant Philip Morris, featured Professor Viscusi, professor of economics at Duke University in North Carolina. He said that ... "most smokers died before they needed expensive treatment. The community over-estimated the risk caused to their health by tobacco." [[4]]

In 1998 Viscusi wrote Risk, Regulation and Responsibility: Principles for Australian Risk Policy and promoted it with a tour of the country,

Geoff Hogbin, then working through Sydney's Centre for Independent Studies (also in the Atlas Group with the Melbourne IPA) squired him around the Eastern States on his tobacco-promotion tour, says:

One of the most valuable aspects of Professor Viscusi's paper is its demonstration of the ways in which health and safety standards are maintained spontaneously through voluntary processes. He argues that most improvements in the workplace injury rate in the US have been generated, not by occupational health and safety regulations, but by wage premiums for risky occupations and insurance premiums for workers' compensation.

[H]ow much the public values improvements in safety that would guide it [the government] towards what Viscusi calls an 'efficient' level of risk. In other words, how much should government spend on health and safety measures? Viscusi argues that such decisions should be based on how much people choose voluntarily to spend on avoiding or reducing injuries and accidental deaths, or on amounts paid to induce workers to accept workplace hazards. Evidence from the US and Australia suggests that people value a statistical (as opposed to an identified) life at around US$5m.

This figure would confirm that the ban on asbestos cited above, which costs US$100m per death averted, is inefficient.

During the press briefing Q&A the first question was a plant from Ray Evans (Western Mining Corp. executive) ... who is a fellow at the IPA and the only Australian to sit on the board of the Atlas Foundation in the USA. [[5]]

The Harvard Law Review later took Viscusi to task with an article 'Bias and Manipulation in Viscusi's Survey Evidence' [[6]]

NOTE: The Washington Post once designated Viscusi as "Reagan Administration's Expert on the Value of Life."

For what it is worth his CV is at [[7]]