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Monday Message Board

May 19th, 2003

Another Monday, another Message Board. Now that everyone has forgotten about Iraq (except the Iraqis, of course), there’s lots to get our attention on all news fronts – universities, tree-clearing and the Murray-Darling – to name just a few. If I get time, I’ll post on these and other things, but why don’t you have your say first. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. Tim Dymond
    May 19th, 2003 at 11:44 | #1

    I’m sorry to drag Iraq back in again, but during the week I followed a blog debate on whether Salam Pax is actually a Ba’ath Party agent (see Kausfiles at slate.com). Apparently SP isn’t showing sufficient overwhelming gratitude for his liberation – so he must be with Saddam’s secret police. I found this funny because since I supported the War (for Anti-Saddam purposes) I have been directing my friends who went on anti-war demos to look at SP in order to demonstrate the complexity of the situation on the ground. I personally didn’t find SP’s criticism of the Americans the least bit offensive – he’s the one who lived through a war after all.

  2. cs
    May 19th, 2003 at 12:27 | #2

    Sorry to drag paedophilia back in again, but is not one acute dilemma in trying to devise punishments/remedies etc the often stated fact (which I am assuming to be true) that offenders are themselves more often that not past victims?

    So, going through the life cycle: innocent tiny tot X is gruesomely abused, suffers horrendous physical, emotional and psychological consequences which, in turn (somehow), contribute decisively to grown up X abusing another innocent tiny tot Y, which results in X being thrown in jail and sufferring more gruesome abuse (and where X, if he lives long enough, will eventually be joined by Y).

    How do you break into this sort of cycle which – one might suppose – characterises the life cycle of a disproportionate number of our Indigeneous people?

  3. Malatesta
    May 19th, 2003 at 13:04 | #3

    It’s good to see the Conscription boogeyman is out of the bottle. Will be interesting to see how long it lasts. I think less than 48 hours. Most politicians know the costs to educate a child, especially in the fee-paying systems they are accustomed to use these days. I imagine Tanya Costello is on to Peter right now, telling him to put a cork in it.
    Oh! Conscripting other people’s children – well, that’s different. Should be OK for the public system. Especially the unemployed.
    Yep, the vapour trail of Conscription will vanish in the breeze created by Kylie’s wobbling derriere. Or the steam arising from Fairfax’s glorious exposure of naked female flesh in the Fashion section.
    On the other hand, the PM’s office may have engineered this little meme journey, just to watch Labor tear itself to bits (again).

  4. Dave Ricardo
    May 19th, 2003 at 13:13 | #4

    Following the terrorist bombing in Casablanca, will the local police round up the usual suspects?

  5. Malatesta
    May 19th, 2003 at 13:25 | #5

    re Conscription

    Darn! Lost the plot completely.
    Of course, the aim of this exercise is to raise some demand (to be amplified through phone polls and focus groups) for more domestic “military” presence.
    Of course, we won’t want any of our own to be drafted.
    But there is salvation. The likes of Tenix, Halliburton, Vinnell (bombed in Riyadh) and the other military contractors have been flogging their wares at Howard’s and Hill’s offices for months. And all hidden from public gaze under the cloak of the anti-terrorism laws. Just what our cities need – bands of armed spooks with licenses to belt down your doors, and not have to face up to civil proceedings.
    It’s just a pity the government can’t tell us where thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate have been hidden away.
    However, Reith’s mercenaries will get lots of drug-busting photo-ops for Howard’s gang.

  6. Tyler
    May 19th, 2003 at 13:50 | #6

    I’m interested in the ABS definition of income and even more interested in the fact that no one else seems to be interested.
    The ABS defines income as ‘regular and recurring csah receipts’. This obviously excludes the non-cash elements of salary packages, meaning that income of the top 10% is hugely understated.

    I wrote to the ABS to confirm this and had a reply which states in part -

    ‘Your understanding that these measures exclude the non-cash elements of salary packaging such as cars, housing, shares and share options, the value of employee discounts etc, as well as irregular or infrequent lump-sum cash bonus payments is correct. Employer contributions to superannuation are also excluded. The ABS is certainly aware of the growing importance of the non-cash component of wages and salaries, particularly at the higher end of the earnings scale, and the implications that its exclusion has for ditributional analysis. The ABS is constantly reviewing its methodolgies with the aim of —’

    It appears from all this that the ABS figures for the income of the top 10% are considerably understated, probably by around 30%. The Gini coefficent would be similarly distorted. And inequality in Australia would be much higher than is shown in the stats.

    Is there any reason why Australian analysts never comment on this?

  7. May 19th, 2003 at 14:29 | #7

    ive got a post up at my site about the september 11 air force response, interesting if youve read gore vidals account of the conspiracy to get america into the afghanistan war:

    http://www.zip.com.au/~zzz/blog/archives/000085.html#000085

  8. John Quiggin
    May 19th, 2003 at 14:46 | #8

    Tyler, to which data series are you referring? The ABS Provisional Framework for Household Income, Consumption, Saving and Wealth proposes a very broad definition, but I’m not sure to what extent this has been implemented.

  9. Dano
    May 19th, 2003 at 15:32 | #9

    c8to:

    there’s a much longer timeline on BushCo’s day here.

    Not sure how unbiased it is, from some of the comments in the text, but interesting nonetheless.

    D

  10. Dano
    May 19th, 2003 at 15:33 | #10

    Oops! Url dropped

    c8to:

    there’s a much longer timeline on BushCo’s day here.

    Not sure how unbiased it is, from some of the comments in the text, but interesting nonetheless.

    D

  11. Dano
  12. derrida derider
    May 19th, 2003 at 15:44 | #12

    Yes, Tyler, salary packaging has certainly led to some underestimation of income in the top quintile or two of earnings (though note that the top percentile or so of income don’t get a lot of their money from earnings).

    But more than offsetting this is the huge underestimation of income of the bottom quintile. If, for example, you total the pension and benefit income people say they get in the surveys it comes to a bit over half the amount actually spent. Also the Household Expenditure Survey shows people in the bottom decile of income have on average only a little less than median expenditure – but this disguises huge variation within that decile. A great many of the people judged ‘poor’ are in fact the self employed, some of whom are doing quite nicely thank you but who are unable or unwilling to estimate their income for the government statistician. Further, this group has grown over time.

    I think income inequality and income poverty are almost impossible to measure reliably – the pattern is the all-too-common one in econometrics of an impressively sophisticated analytic structure resting on very weak data foundations. Much better to use broader measures (consumption inequality, relative deprivation, mortality and morbidity indicators, etc) to get at questions of hardship and disadvantage.

  13. May 19th, 2003 at 18:47 | #13

    cool thanks, dano…

    will definately have to check that link out. it seems scandalous the lack of reporting on this subject considering that high profile authours are claiming conspiracy. either theres something there, or it should be easy to prove there was no such conspiracy.

  14. May 19th, 2003 at 19:42 | #14

    Re Salam Pax and his detractors – Reason’s blog had this to say:
    http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/001553.shtml#001553:

    They offer a number of reasons for this thesis, but their case boils down to this: Salam Pax’s posts do not reflect our worldview. To reassess our worldview would be a terrible hardship. Therefore, his posts are lies.

  15. Observa
    May 20th, 2003 at 04:40 | #15

    CS

    On paedophilia it may be important to understand the nature of the problem. For instance I understand that homosexuals make up about 4% of the population. That is aprox. 1 in every 25 persons. Are their any similar reliable estimates of paedophiles in a given population? Is paedophilia as prevalent as homosexuality?

    Also I think that the impact of paedophilia on a victim will largely depend upon circumstances. At very young ages(tiny tots) the lack of memory of events may cause no lasting disturbance. eg an isolated instance of sexual fondling of a toddler. At some age memory will stay and feelings of guilt and shame may emerge, if not immediately, then later upon adult scrutiny.

    Of course sexual penetration of pre-pubescent children and subsequent physical harm is another category. How prevalent is this form of child abuse? It may be extremely rare. Are the perpetrators deeply psychotic, rather than abusers of children because of learnt behaviour from their childhood? In other words more in their nature than nurture. Is the former group unreformable, while the latter has hope.

    How much should we differentiate sexual abuse of children from other forms of abuse? Surely some cases of physical and mental abuse of children. as well as neglect can be as detrimental to the final development of balanced adults. I know personally of two seemingly well balanced women (acquaintances)who have confided in me that they were sexually active with their fathers before they knew what this meant. Their sense of balance would appear to come from a sense of being cared for and loved (ie not in a sexual sense) by other responsible adults in their lives. On the other hand a single sexual abuse act by a predatory adult, with an unloved orphan or foster child, can have enormous long term ramifications it would seem.

    My view is that society needs to discard its sense of taboo on the subject of paedophilia and separate fact from fiction. The outcomes for individuals are too important to be swept under the carpet.

  16. Tyler
    May 21st, 2003 at 12:50 | #16

    John

    I’m referring to all data series on average income of income units and households, for example Income Distribution 6523.0 1999-2000. It’s the standard ABS definition of income and has been for years.

    derrida derrider

    It’s more than ‘some’ understatement, For the top decile, it’s quite extreme. I’d agree with you, though, that income inequality and income poverty are almost impossible to measure reliably. Your last paragraph sums it all up well.

    But the point of my letter was to point out one anomaly that could and should be corrected. Stats are enough of a joke already without making them unnecessarily ludicrous.

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