Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog


Connor Lane – History of London | Week 7

Connor Lane, 20 February 2017

Over the last week I’ve gotten to see a lot of London’s history. Starting last weekend, I went to check out the British Museum. Their collection of historic art and pieces of forgotten cultures helps to bring the city into perspective.

British Museum

3,400 year old gigantic head

Monday was one of the sunniest days I’ve seen since being here and it was great spending it in the countryside out in Andover.

Llew, Hannah and myself were invited to lunch with Sarah, a member of the Mannkal advisory board – it was a much-needed break from the fast-paced frenzy of the city.

I was pretty stoked to find out that her house was where Jane Austen penned Pride and Prejudice! It was insanely cool getting so see some British history up close. We all had a great time talking about what we had been up to and our various think tanks.

We also got to meet the resident chickens, rabbits and pigs on the property!

By the time we had finished it was late in the day but since we were in the area, we decided to take a trip to the Salisbury plain to see the Stonehenge monument. There’s something very eerie about it but we all managed to snap heaps of photos anyway.

Hanging out at Stonehenge

Sarah's house in Andover

On Tuesday, Dan from the Centre of Policy studies took a few of us at the office on a tour of parliament. Definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve had since getting to London. What really struck me are the tiny technicalities that have stemmed from events that occurred centuries ago.

For example, Queen Elizabeth is never allowed to step foot in the House of Commons – no monarch can. This rule stemmed from Charles I storming the chamber to arrest five MPs almost 400 years ago.

Another point on tradition that I thought was interesting is Sinn Fein’s refusal to take a loyalty oath to the Queen– a formality that prevents the party from access to the House.

A frustrating, symbolic gesture at the expense of the system and those who pay for it. Aside from all the tradition, the rule I found most disappointing was that we couldn’t take photos, I think this one had more basis in reason but still…

At the office I’m trying to get as much done as possible seeing as next week is my last! Aside from the field trips at the start of the week it’s been extremely busy. I plan on making the most of my last days at CapX and soaking up as much of the experience as I can.

Connor Lane – London | Week 6

Connor Lane, 13 February 2017

This week has been terrific! But you never would have guessed had you been viewing the world through the mouthpiece that most news outlets provide.

One of the highlights of interning at CapX is being a part of their emphasis on problem solving and appealing to reason.

I’ve had a lot of exposure to ideas and opinions that do not otherwise receive nearly enough publicity. Great thinkers who share a global outlook and a passion for liberty come together to give clear solutions in the context of prosperity, growth and freedom. This is something that has been essential lately!

It’s been weeks since the inauguration but still Trump remains central to a majority of the news stories being released. One argument I found notably worrying was made in an article by Francesco Sisci – he made the point that a Trump led withdrawal into increased U.S isolation will deprive the world of a powerful advocate for liberty.

America’s global role has been very understandably criticised but it would doubtlessly be a shame if their advocacy for democracy and freedom is quarantined along with them.

I’ve really enjoyed the window into life as a journalist in London – afforded to me mostly through conversations with the publications staff.

Hearing the experiences and assessments of the issues facing the industry from experienced journalists is pretty invaluable. Countless great writers have learned their craft in this city so it’s interesting to find out what makes it so unique.

A world city moves so fast; it doesn’t seem like an accident that London is such a cultural hub. While Perth’s isolation has been a huge factor in its cultural development, London’s connectedness seems like it’s played a major part in its own development.

I can’t believe how quickly the internship is going, there is still a lot to learn from this city so I’m trying to absorb as much as possible.

This weekend I’m going to make an effort to visit the historical sights and try to find out how the city got to where it is now. After driving past the place on a bus every day, I’ll probably start with the Imperial War Museum!

Apparently this article was funny

View from my apartment

Connor Lane – Lunar New Year in London | Week 5

Connor Lane, 7 February 2017

Lunar New Year Breakfast

Last weekend Llew, Hannah and I got to see the Lunar New Year come to London. The food was terrific and the streets were filled with tourists, worshippers and performers. The city looked great draped in red and gold – we walked around the entire morning soaking in the atmosphere.

This week in the office has been busy, but I am becoming faster at completing my daily tasks, as a result I’ve had more spare time to write articles. I’ve mostly been researching how different nations are enabling or hindering companies and citizens to prepare for the incoming generation of technology.

I’ve found that over-regulation will never be able to completely destroy the spirit of innovation (as hard as it may try). But, if a government does decide to promote freedom – they can give their nation a very sizable advantage. The next few years will see the rise of some industries that have the potential to be a catalyst for great growth in the world – if they are allowed to reach their potential.

For the last few days, my commute home has been disrupted by Trump protesters. I think this is the third set since the inauguration. This time, they’ve taken issue with him wanting to enter the UK.  Imagine what kind of trade deal negotiation tactics Britain would have to employ if they deny the American president entry to the country! Theresa May put the issue to rest in a masterful takedown of Corbyn during the Prime Ministers Question Time.

'Imprisoned in India' presentation

Power, Territory and Borders

On Tuesday I went to the ‘Power, Territory and Borders’ conference to hear a discussion about how the arbitrary lines drawn on maps have had enormous consequences for all of us. It was eye opening and provided a lot of insight into what direction the next decade is likely to head.

I especially found it interesting to note the increased role in the world that the Arctic is going to play. Not particularly good news for the West as Russia has been preparing for years to dominate the region. The future of shipping and trade throughout the area will be a contentious issue.

Also to note were Tim Marshall’s opinions on China’s naval build up and the Russian objective to find a warm water port (Sevastopol). It was a great talk anyway; I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days nonstop!

I went to another excellent talk tonight, this time at the IEA where James Tooley spoke about corruption in India. He’s definitely an authority on the issue – he was locked up without charge after investigating the Indian school system. It is easy to grow used to living in a free society and very humbling to be reminded of the pointless suffering inflicted on the defenceless by people with authority.

To anybody reading who might be interested in James’ story, he has just written an account of the ordeal titled ‘Imprisoned in India’.

That’s it for this week! I’m pretty excited to take the opportunity this weekend to go full tourist mode and check out some sights.

Not stoked about getting drenched at Trafalgar Square

Connor Lane – London, UK | Week 3

Connor Lane, 23 January 2017

This week saw the clouds give way to the sun and Theresa May addressed the nation on how Brexit will be approached.

The speech cut through the noise and rumours of the last few months – Britain is leaving the single market to embrace the world of free trade. There is already no shortage of nations lining up to take part in these agreements and excitement builds at the prospect of a ‘truly global Britain’.

Exploring London

Checking out the neighbourhood

It was an intense week to aggregate news with words like ‘Davos’, ‘Brexit’, ‘Inauguration’ and ‘Gambia’ setting the agenda for the last few days. The work is a great opportunity to read about a wide range of events from around the globe – many of which admittedly, would have otherwise slipped my radar.

Yesterday after work I decided to walk to Oxford Street to pick up a coat. Upon arriving I happily got lost among the high-tech display windows, wide streets and luxury cars… then my phone died. I spent a good hour shuffling through China town, attempting to find my bearings, eventually coming across Trafalgar Square. The statues there are incredible, even more so when you aren’t expecting to stumble upon them.

That sums up London though, being lost here is never a problem – there are seemingly endless districts to delve into.

A sculpture of the siege of Calais

Connor Lane | Week 2

Connor Lane, 17 January 2017

This week at CapX, I’ve been given the task of conducting research for my first article. The hardest part is of course deciding what to write about. I think I’ve settled on making an argument to use the free market as a tool to end world poverty.

I read the other day that the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world is about to fall below 10%! A huge milestone for humanity and a figure that has been lost among some of the less cheerful news stories of the year.

I’ve also decided I’m going to make my way down the Centre of Policy Studies’ reading list. I’ve started with ‘Eutopia’ – Maurice Saatchi’s lecture that helped to convince British voters they should regain their self governance from Brussels. If you have any friends you’ve yet to convince that Brexit was the right move – This is the book!

Beyond reading, the best way to absorb information from the city is to immerse yourself in it. There are an almost infinite number of interesting conferences at any given time, finding them is only a few clicks away.

A few I selected feature the latest developments in financial technology, the Internet of Things and Britain’s role in Syria. A lecture I am particularly looking forward to is named ‘Power, Territory and Borders’. It will host a talk by Tim Marshall, author of ‘Prisoners of Geography’ – I’m very sure he has some valuable opinions on Australia’s place in the world that unfortunately were not included in his book.

I plan on concluding the week by checking out some of the tourist attractions (Natural History Museum is first up). I’m looking forward to updating everyone next week!

Thinking warm thoughts on my way home

Reading by my window

Walking down Great Smith St.

Connor Lane – Life in London | Week 1

Connor Lane, 10 January 2017

This week has been a fantastic introduction to living in London – the fast paced lifestyle, the English breakfasts and the Centre of Policy Studies are among the millions of components that make this city great.

I spent my first few days exploring and getting a feel for the city, the dichotomy between Perth and London is stark. Life in one of the most isolated cities in the world can do little to prepare you for life in one of the most central.

Ideas are easily accessible in London. Ideas I can’t help but think can be applied to Perth in so many ways. The ever-present conferences available around the city host authors and thinkers that keep the interested knowledgeable. The numerous and diverse think tanks maintain a healthy debate and of course the multiple publications with their own areas of interest, keep their readers constantly informed.

I’m lucky enough to be interning at one such publication, CapX! I’ve been an avid reader since I was turned onto their work by Mannkal and it’s great to see first hand the inner workings of the organisation. My favourite daily task is helping to aggregate articles from interesting sources and posting them to CapX’s website. This involves sifting through written pieces by the likes of the FEE and the Ayn Rand institute and aiming to select the most relevant for CapX’s readership.

I always leave the office elated at the wide range of opinions I have absorbed during the day, a feeling which continues as I walk past Westminster Abbey, around Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge on my walk home!

Overall, it has been a very busy first week but the experiences have been invaluable. I can’t wait to see what the coming week holds and share it with you all!

Margaret Thatcher at the Centre for Policy Studies

Daily commute past Big Ben

Ilma Amin- Week 3 in CapX London

Ilma Amin, 18 July 2016

Week 3 in London and I am loving every single day of my placement at the online journalism site of CapX. The fast paced environment coincides with the wave of daily political changes the UK has been experiencing- one of which is the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Theresa May. I have no shame in admitting that I hassled my supervisor to find me tickets to watch the historic moment where Ms May graced into Downing Street from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

Unfortunately tickets were hard to find for general members of the public, but hey I can definitely say that I was here when the UK saw its second female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher all thanks to Mannkal!
This week I was given the opportunity to operate the social media activities of CapX. Social media is the latest tectonic plate that has changed the way journalism works. Careful operation of social media is pivotal for CapX to ensure all content is made accessible for their readers. I was required to post the links to all the articles on the website on Facebook and Twitter. Social media makes an interesting platform for readers to get involved in the publication by incorporating comments within our website story pages and sharing their views with us.

Over the weekend I went to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Both were breathtakingly beautiful- I had to pinch myself to remind me that I am actually in London! I walked around the area exploring the bustling metropolitan of Southwark and had to check out The Shard- the tallest building in the UK at 309m high!
Three weeks down and the next two weeks are jam packed with networking events, more writing and more sightseeing as my love for this city continues to grow!

Wei Tien Sng – Week 8

Wei Tien Sng, 29 February 2016

“A dream is a wish your heart makes” – Cinderella

I cannot believe that my 8 weeks in London have come to an end! Thank you so much Ron, Paul, Becky and the Mannkal team for trusting me with this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I know that this has been one of the best experiences of my life. Also a massive thank-you to the CapX staff for being so welcoming and helpful to an incredibly out-of-her-depth intern in a big big city. It’s been a blast. Thank you.

My last week at CapX had me writing more articles than ever before, that started from little seedlings dreamed up by our esteemed Editor-in-Chief Iain. This gave me lots of valuable experience in researching topics quickly and efficiently so that I could write the article as soon as I could. I covered the hot topic of the Republican Nevada caucus in a new format: 5 things to take away from… This involved finding interesting and topical external articles and writing short summaries about them and including the links in my article so that people could quickly find 5 relevant and maybe slightly quirky articles that make 5 excellent points. My favourite was Quartz’s transcript of Donald Trump’s victory speech. It was a fascinating speech, and also very terrifying, that this man could potentially become the Republican nominee for POTUS.

My last weekend was spent visiting a childhood friend in Florence, after I impulsively booked a flight there one day. It was gorgeous. Florence is old-world charm mixed with the exuberance of Italian culture and drowning in lavish architecture – the Medici family’s great wealth could afford to adorn the city with so many gilded statues and marble facades. Everything has been meticulously preserved, so it’s no great stretch of the imagination to dream about what it was like to live in the birthplace of the Renaissance nearly 700 years ago. Another thing the Florentines excel at is gelato. I want to say I basically survived on gelato, but that would be a lie – all my time was spent eating or walking, or both at the same time. I can’t wait to return one day.

These past 8 weeks have had their ups and downs, but they have also been some of the most incredible 8 weeks of my life. Everyone I have met on this trip have a special place in my heart. It may be months till I next see them, or years, but I am very excited for what the future holds. Thank you Mannkal, and CapX!

The river Arno

Gelato in Florence

CapX/CPS team

Wei Tien Sng – Week 7

Wei Tien Sng, 23 February 2016

“I am on my way, I can go the distance.” – Hercules

It’s amazing; I can’t believe I’ve already been in London for 7 whole weeks! Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

This week I was super fortunate to join Cathal on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, which was very kindly organised by Dan, one of the staff members at CPS and a friend of his who works with an MP. He also very generously acted as our tour guide. Though it was only a short visit, I loved every second of it, and Dan was a very knowledgeable guide, even when confronted with strange questions. Parliament was not in session when we were there, but we had a peek inside both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and learnt about some of the funny rituals and quirks of each house. There are also plenty of humorous tales about various MPs getting angry during Parliament and picking up the ceremonial mace. Which is apparently very heavy, so it was really all he could do to pick it up and sort of slam it back down.

We also visited the Queen’s robing room, where she is robed before opening Parliament, and walked past her private elevator. I really liked all the portraits of past and present monarchs that were hanging in one of the larger chambers, I thought they were really well done and excellent representations of their subjects. No photos are allowed inside the Houses of Parliament, so unfortunately I don’t have any to post!

I was a little ill this weekend, I think it was a weird, mild, but drawn-out case of food poisoning, which is why this entry is a little late. Saturday was moving day though, and Sharni’s flight back to Perth. Moving day went off without a hitch, which was great, and luckily on Sunday I was well enough to visit the London Dungeon and the London Zoo with Cathal, but the evening was spent in my room being not very well. I am looking forward to my last week at CapX, it’s been a blast so far and I’m sure my internship will end on a high note!

Birds at London Zoo

Primrose Hill

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Wei Tien Sng – Week 6

Wei Tien Sng, 15 February 2016

“I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far, I can’t go back to where I used to be.” – Princess Jasmine

This week brought my biggest challenge so far: writing a travel piece for CapX’s weekend section on Perth and WA. I tried my utmost to do our beautiful state justice. Something unexpected that I have learnt while away is just how underrated and truly magnificent WA is. Perth has a reputation for being dull and boring, but in fact it doesn’t take much to uncover all we really have to offer, and just how amazing the things we do have to offer are. Feel free to have a read!

This week I attended a talk by the Undercover Economist, Tim Harford, on the topic of Good Statistics, Bad Causes. It was very insightful. Good causes, such as charities, sometimes rely on, or make up, bad statistics and numbers for a number of purposes, both noble or ignoble. Often, they are trying to reach their ultimate goal of raising funds or awareness, but Tim points out that they frequently achieve this by manipulating numbers and statistics so that people ‘feel’ things and then give, rather than relying on the true facts to help promotes their cause. Other times, it is naivety and a lack of proper and through research that leads to dodgy numbers. A key point emphasised during the talk was that a statistic should tell you something about the world or you will have learnt nothing. He also gave some tips on how to filter out the rubbish and probe a statistic to find out if it was any good.

After the talk there was a short panel discussion on charities and statistics, continuing with the theme for the night. An interesting thing that was pointed out during that panel was the alarming lack of adult competence in numeracy, and the startlingly different way we, as a society, view numeracy and literacy. People often ask questions along the line of “what is 19×35?” but you hardly ever get asked questions like “how do you spell “Mississippi”? when asked about literacy. We are taught increasingly difficult maths to apply to simple situations, but in reality, the maths we need is rather basic, but is applied in more complex situations, such as calculating the yields for bonds or stocks, rather than needing to calculate the volume of a sphere.

I had a lovely relaxing weekend this week. It was just what I needed after 6 solid weeks of ‘go go go’! I’m looking forward to my penultimate week well-rested and refreshed.

London Eye at night

Panel discussion at Good Causes, Bad Statistics

Tim Harford