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Weekend reflections

May 19th, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. Paul Kelly at News Ltd
    May 19th, 2006 at 12:53 | #1

    Definition of Practical Reconciliation: washing your hands of the whole thing, while reserving the right to beat your chest about how politically incorrect you are.

  2. Paul Kelly at News Ltd
    May 19th, 2006 at 13:05 | #2

    Interesting, my comment on ‘practical reconciliation’ disappeared. I’ll comment on something else.

    I have rather low-brow reading tastes and love a good thriller, whodunnit and page turner. But I found the Da Vinci Code so badly written, with stupid characterisation and annoying padding as to be unreadable, perservering about one-third through before giving up.

    The film is being reviewed poorly, but it has to be better than the appalling rubbish that was the book, surely? I imagine its level of entertainment would be inversely proportional to the amount of input Dan Brown had.

  3. Paul Kelly at News Ltd
    May 19th, 2006 at 13:06 | #3

    Comment 1 back, obviously.

  4. May 19th, 2006 at 13:12 | #4

    PK – agree completely with your summary, at least of the Da Vinci Code novel. We said more here: http://weekbyweek7.blogspot.com/2006/05/da-vinci-code-oh-dear-conspiracy-cock.html#links

  5. May 19th, 2006 at 14:04 | #5

    Da Vinci Code has sold lotsa copies. Paul Kelly clearly is out of touch with popular opinion.

  6. May 19th, 2006 at 14:07 | #6

    Or maybe popular books are “…badly written, with stupid characterisation and annoying padding…” and that is why they are popular. Sometimes I think I am in the wrong business.

  7. Paul Kelly at News Ltd
    May 19th, 2006 at 14:42 | #7

    Not at all Steve at the pub, I’m aware that it’s a popular book, therefore I am in touch with popular opinion.

  8. jquiggin
    May 19th, 2006 at 15:39 | #8

    I had my say on the da Vinci code here. I don’t think I’ll bother with the movie.

  9. May 19th, 2006 at 17:51 | #9

    I am amazed by the news that Peter Costello can block the release (under freedom of information laws) of data on bracket creep. He argued that it was not in the public interest to know how much bracket creep we have had. If this is the case then who the heck is the public?

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bracket-creep-details-belong-to-the-public-say-judges/2006/05/18/1147545460771.html

    If he was serious about the public interest he would introduce automatic indexing of the tax scales so that they keep pace with wages growth.

  10. Dogz
    May 19th, 2006 at 18:05 | #10

    Terje – I couldn’t agree more. This is one time I would like to see the High Court legislate from the bench.

    On another note: JQ, you still moderate every comment of mine. I don’t even remember anymore why you chose to do so. Do you ever reverse a moderation decision, or am I destined to sit in the sin bin forever?

  11. May 19th, 2006 at 19:02 | #11

    Terje,
    It is easier to play Santa Claus if others pay for the presents. Governments of all stripes know this and have played this game ever since progressive taxation was introduced.

  12. May 20th, 2006 at 01:28 | #12

    Terje,

    You need to show more respect for our leaders. They have agreed to lead us and defend our way of life and frankly you are not making their job any easier. As you know, there a lot of people trying to attack our way of life, and I think you are giving them comfort. But verily it could well be said that you have a point.

  13. May 20th, 2006 at 13:47 | #13

    Yes. However it does make a mockery of freedom of information laws. I am at a loss to understand how releasing such data could threaten the public interest.

  14. jquiggin
    May 20th, 2006 at 16:21 | #14

    Dogz, you’re off the list now (assuming I’ve done it right). Please remember to be particularly polite – you can make your point without abusing people, and if someone says something idiotic, show us it’s silly, don’t tell us.

    To everyone else who’s been moderated today, not sure what is driving this – I may have added some spam text that appears in metadata or something.

  15. morganzola
    May 20th, 2006 at 22:08 | #15

    Nicholas is quite correct, and Terje has already made one major error of judgement this week:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/4993994.stm

    Don’t be too quick to criticise our fearless leaders. They know what’s best for us to know.

  16. econwit
    May 20th, 2006 at 23:01 | #16

    the ‘revenue lobby’ (comprising the ATO, the Treasury and their allies in politics, academia, the media and the welfare industry) is alive and well Terje.

    It doesn’t matter what side of the house they come from. “They” are the ruling class and it is us against “them”^.

    The working poor would revolt if they new the truth about bracket …. I will regurgitate the subject.

    Hidden behind progressive taxation is the rise in the effective tax rate of average earnings and the rise in tax as a proportion of GDP

    These deceptive rises in real tax rates occur over time and are a direct result of the scam called progressive taxation. As the government increases money supply and dilutes the currency, we need more of it to buy the same goods and services, we are no better off but they swipe a bigger proportion of our income in tax. What makes this process more criminal is that for every dollar the government spends effectively, it squirts one up against the wall. The government is a self regulating monopoly and they have legislated themselves a permanent pay rise- progressive taxation.

    In the end, any sense of fairness in a progressive system of taxation can only be arbitrary. The scam of progressive taxation should be abolished and replaced with flat tax with a hefty iflation adjusted tax free threshold.

    Inflation is a big evil that economists seem to ignore, don’t understand or refuse to evaluate properly. It is the governments equivalent of a mandated increase in the real rate of taxation each year.

    A cursory look will highlight what inflation does to marginal income tax scales. Inflation changes marginal income tax from a progressive tax to a regressive tax. Over time people on low incomes are taxed more proportionally and people on higher incomes are taxed less proportionally. This occurs because it is impossible to account or adjust for each individuals inflation rate, they are all different and governments always fail to adequately compensate for inflation. This flaw renders the marginal income tax system a regressive tax system.

    at the lower income quartile more low income earners are being taxed who previously were not. This is due to the tax threshold not being inflation adjusted. As inflation dilutes the value of currency, they need more dollars to buy the same good and services. They are no better of in real terms but they are being penalised by the tax system by being introduce to tax (going from under the tax free threshold to the lowest marginal rate). AN INCREASE IN PERCENTAGE OF TAX PAID BY PEOPLE ON LOW INCOMES.

    in the middle income quartiles the effective tax rate of Average Weekly Earnings has increased. Taxation of the average wage has increased from approximately $17 tax per $100 of wage in the early 1980s, to $23 tax per $100 in 2003- 17% TO 23% a 50% increase in the rate ( Approximate figures) AN INCREASE IN PERCENTAGE OF TAX PAID BY PEOPLE ON MODERATE INCOMES.

    at the top income quartile the reduction of the top marginal rates. As inflation slams “the majority”, middle class taxpayers into the top marginal rate it gets reduced. We have seen major reductions in the top marginal rates in recent years.- A DECREASE IN PERCENTAGE OF TAX PAID BY PEOPLE ON HIGH INCOMES.

    The deceptive use of “progressive” tax scales and inflation is being used to increase the rate of stamp duties as well. The average Sydney home was the average Sydney home 5 years ago, but the rate of stamp duty on The average Sydney home has increased from approximately 2% to 3.85% in 5 years (a 90% increase in the rate). That massive increase in the rate of taxation equates to an extra $9250 of extra tax on the average Sydney home in todays dollars.

    Deceptively increasing the rates of taxation for workin’ poor under the guise of a “progressive tax” should not be common knowledge. It is ‘revenue lobby’ policy.

    Kind regards,

    Econwit

  17. Paul Kelly – the journo, football player and musician rolled into one
    May 20th, 2006 at 23:16 | #17

    Yes, our leaders are brave, kind and wise. They collect $220 billion every year but pay themselves only meagre salaries and give nearly all of the rest back.

    I particularly my tax dollars funding overseas trips so the PM can get a Texan roasting about his baldness and ugliness in general. Anything to avoid thinking of the scores of people killed weekly in Iraq is money well spent.

    In conclusion, full marks to our glorious leaders. Particularly the one wot looks and behaves like a dog. He’ll be PM one day.

  18. Paul Kelly – the journo, football player and musician rolled into one
    May 20th, 2006 at 23:17 | #18

    Yes, our leaders are brave, kind and wise. They collect $220 billion every year but pay themselves only meagre salaries and give nearly all of the rest back.

    I particularly like my tax dollars funding overseas trips so the PM can get a Texan roasting about his baldness and ugliness in general. Anything to avoid thinking of the scores of people killed weekly in Iraq is money well spent.

    In conclusion, full marks to our glorious leaders. Particularly the one wot looks and behaves like a dog. He’ll be PM one day.

  19. Katz
    May 21st, 2006 at 08:37 | #19

    This is the money quote from Terje’s story about Freedom of Information:

    ‘”Why possibly, in a nation like ours, an open democracy, with freedom of expression … could it possibly be not in the public interest to disclose a document made by the public servants who are paid by taxpayers in this country,” said Justice Michael Kirby of a minute protected by the certificate.’

    There’s the problem. On the face of it, Kirby seems to be talking about another country, not Australia:

    1. We aren’t an ‘open democracy”. Growing parts of the public service have been transformed into personal fiefdoms by a proliferation of advisors and cut-outs. Accountability is a sham.

    2. We don’t have “freedom of expression”. Until Don Chipp dismantled it, censorship was imposed by ministerial fiat. The same applies in all the states and territories. Censorship could be reimposed tomorrow by the same means. Chipp granted us a privilege. We have no right to see and read what we want, and we will not have that right until we have a constitutional guarantee of that right.

    3. Surely Kirby is being disingenuous. The most dangerous inroads into the separation of powers has occurred under Howard. Howard has waged war on the independence of the judiciary. Kirby’s brother and sister judges have been stripped of powers while Kirby has sat on the Bench of the High Court. And Kirby should also consider his fellow judges. How independent will they be when they come to decide the scope of the Corporations Powers in relation to Howard’s Industrial Relations changes? This is the most important constitutional case since the High Court struck down the Communist Party Dissolution Act.

  20. May 21st, 2006 at 09:25 | #20

    Just a query on possibly sleeping major tale folks, regarding the RMIT brain tumours and mobile phone base stations. I have now heard that the union covering maintenance workers for the ‘towers’ has announced that its members have suspended work on such sites. I don’t know if this is only in Victoria, or a wider phenomena.

    Take worst case scenario, that the things are shown to be a real and present danger to health. Considering how much our society has come to rely upon digital data, what happens next?

  21. May 21st, 2006 at 11:38 | #21

    Marko,
    In the worst case? People work out to turn them off before working on them and the operating companies use better components to reduce maintenance. The same study showed clearly that the dangers are so close to zero, unless you are standing directly in front of them and within a couple of metres, as not to be worth considering.
    There is not any data that indicates these are dangerous (except as indicated above) so, unless a credible, peer reviewed study comes out that there is a danger we can get on with our lives.

  22. May 21st, 2006 at 17:54 | #22

    After all, mobile phone towers now cover the world. Aren’t we getting to a time frame where a lot of communities would notice the same connection?

    I imagine the group working under the RMIT transmitters would exhibit a whole lot of statistical abnormalities, of which a group of brain tumours would be just one.

    The relationship between radio waves and external effects has been known to the Unions for a long time. When Radio Australia had an antenna array in rural Victoria, workers would find their tools getting hot, and sometimes they would fall asleep.

    Before you rush in with the cheap jokes, this was happening at very high intensities, and they did learn to switch off parts of the array before working on it.

  23. May 21st, 2006 at 18:09 | #23

    Thanks for the replies. Turning the things off while working on them makes sense. Took them awhile to work that out when radar was new, didn’t all those early radar technicians die of cancers?

    Anyway, the reason I posed the question is that we ARE only now beginning to enter the period during which the long term population effects of the recent digital ‘revolution’ begin showing themselves statistically. With relatively low doses, it is only after a relatively long time that the effects could be expected to become properly identifiable. That’s the potential to which my question addresses itself, a dilemma that will probably only really strike us (if it ever does) in ten or more years.

    I guess my concern grows out of the ‘precautionary principle’ of risk management, something that was comfortably worked around when the technologies were first put in place in all our suburbs.

  24. Farmer Pete
    May 22nd, 2006 at 18:50 | #24

    My dear old Dad used to be a PNG tech working on high powered radio transmitters 50 years ago. A disproportionately large number of his mates died of brain tumors, he’s one of the few still alive. Anecdotal I know, no statistical evidence, but as Dave Tilley says above, the link’s been suspected for quite a long time.

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