12 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Yes it’s been hot. But what’s been even hotter is the rort peddled by both Liberal and Labor governments over the years called bracket creep.

    Bracket creep is a great way for governments to collect more tax dollars from PAYE taxpayers without increasing tax rates. All you have to do is sit on your hands, not change the tax thresholds and wait for wages growth to push a greater proportion of taxpayer’s incomes into higher tax brackets.

    According to the Australian, bracket creep will have cost taxpayers $3.8 billion by 2004/05.

    Yes every so often you get governments lifting these threshholds. But I bet if you did the anlysis over say 20 years you would find that the increase in tax thresholds have not kept pace with the increase in wages (Prof Quig – any data here?).

    So in the spirit of coming clean and vowing to right wrongs, wouldn’t it be a good idea for Latham to come out and commit a future Labor government to pegging tax threshholds to wages growth?

    Please tell me if this would be too hard, but why couldn’t you index the tax threshholds levels to something like the average wage of a PAYE taxpayer? That way you could ensure that the setting of tax threshholds would be at arms length from poltiicians and would keep pace with taxpayer incomes.

    I suspect the answer here is yes there’s no reason why it couldn’t be done but this would involve governments ceding control and giving up the bonus tax revenue they have always received from bracket creep.


  2. John, to pick up the heat theme, I’ve been in Brisbane for most of the last 50 years and last week was right up there as the hottest of hot spells. It was the humidity that went with the 40 degree heat. Apparently the widespread rain in January meant that the air travelling from north of the continent didn’t dry out as much as you would expect before it reaches us.

    On the broader view the pattern was caused by the main systems (highs and lows) travelling further south below the continent than is normal. This has been a pattern over the last few years, summer and winter, according to one weather man I heard. In terms of global warming it doesn’t mean anything definite, but apparently that pattern is one you would expect more frequently as global warming advances.

    btw I intended to come into town for the trade seminar at QUT today, but staying alive has been a challenge and I didn’t make it. Tell us about it, please!

  3. Scott, He introduced it but then got rid of it when it became apparent:
    1) he was getting no kudos for it
    2)it involved losing a lot of tax revenue.

    On a much more important matter we right wing supporters of globalisation have always been supporters of the World Game, called the beautiful game when Brazil is involved.

    Last week the Socceroos played Venezuella and gained a highly respectable draw ( V is unbeaten in their last 15 home games).

    This was a good result as the Socceroos were not at full strength and were winning until virtually the last minute.

    Perhaps under the new regime football has turned the corner in Australia and we can llok forward to Australia playing in the original and only worthwhile World cup!

  4. Homer: Winning they were until the second last minute, but the first half hour of the second half was pitiful. When they should have been maintaining possession and cementing their superiority, instead they were belting the ball back to the opposition.

    While i’m on the subject, Liverpool’s season has hardly been representative of their quality, (when they’re not playing like a pool of liver, they’re swimming in it) and yet the manager, Houllier, has so far elegantly defused any backlash from fans by saying virtually nothing at post-game conferences, instead repeatedly congratulating the effort of the team and the fickleness of the game. Liverpool should sack him so he can pursue his proper career as a politician.

  5. Hey John..

    i’ve always wanted to know your take on the account deficit that Keating left us in the 1990s.. What percentage of GDP was it at its peak? Did the fact that the liberals managed to control it in a short period without significant sacrifices mean that it was a cyclical, manageable deficit?

    Also given that we’ve now had 12-13 years of economic growth since the recession “we had to have” (growth that the liberals claim exclusive responisibiliy for even though half of it occured under labor), do you think we would get another 6 years of growth? If we don’t, doesn’t that mean if Latham wins the election he will be inherited a dead horse, an economy that is about to run out of steam? That is worst case for labor because that would lead to them being voted out in 2007.


  6. I thought it might be a good idea to paste in this last interchange on a post in the old blog, so as not to miss anything topical while we wait for the old material to be transferred. (My own problems with the captured Blood Service are simmering, with one last attrition conference scheduled to hit me before the real deal hearings in mid-March. It’s Matter Number U2003/5575 if anybody is interested enough to chase it all up.)

    I’m doing my best to get the whole capturing issue and the ARCBS’s knowing choice of an inadequate blood management system into the public arena too, for public interest reasons as well as my own personal desperation, so I have been trying to get the media interested. I have approached the Australian so far, but I would have no objection to the likes of John Quiggin picking it up and running with it as an illustration of his earlier item(s) on how managerialism is breaking the back of professionally oriented groups like hospitals (hint, hint).

    Herewith the old postings:-

    In my view, unemployment will not improve with changing demographics (even if it
    did, that wouldn’t represent a lifetsyle improvement). This is because there is an
    underlying cause of deterioration, and it is not typical for leaks to stop gaining on
    the pumps.

    I have frequently suggested that the main leaks are from an externality that favours
    unemployment, from the interaction of the tax system and Social Security, and that
    that would be best cured by a Pigovian approach. The “five economists’ plan” can
    be thought of in this light, but I far prefer the approach of Professor Kim Swales of
    the University of Strathclyde. The Dutch experience squares with the externality
    insight too, since it corresponds to a comparatively untargetted approach to

    As for stress etc., I myself am on the receiving end of a hard time from employers
    who are official good guys captured by a clique that is implementing managerialism
    (probably to achieve leaner, meaner). I am very much caught in the works, and
    that is aggravating the merely financial and career consequences. I have to fight
    them through a tribunal system since any form of rolling over guarantees I will
    never work again, as they will just pick up the telephone whenever someone asks
    for a reference. I know I have very little chance, but unless I put them in a situation
    where the clique doesn’t pass off its problems as agency costs but has an incentive
    to play straight, I’ve had it. See Aesop’s fable of the Frog and the Scorpion,
    though. (Oh, and if you think I’m being paranoid, I’m not. It’s standard operating
    procedure, which you can see if you can find out anything about what happened to
    Leo Raffoul, and is happening to him all over again now.)

    Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at February 20, 2004 07:28 AM

    P.M. Lawrence,
    Smart employers don’t comment negatively about employees over the phone
    anymore. If the worker was good you are happy to say so. If he was no good,
    you say- ‘No comment unless you want to call round and identify yourself and
    your organisation’ That’s employer code for- ‘I’m bloody glad he’s off our books
    mate’, after a few employers have been done for defamatory comments,
    prejudicial to the employee’s future employment. A mate of mine had to settle out
    of court for $15,000 for one such ex-employee, verbal statement of honesty,
    which was elicited by a union rep, masquerading as a prospective employer. We
    are all much wiser at respecting the Privacy Laws now.

    Posted by: Observa at February 20, 2004 10:34 AM

    Observa – we are not talking about a hypothetical “smart employer”.

    We are talking about an employer captured by a clique. It is in any clique
    member’s interests to maint the rubbishing over the short term, long enough to
    advance his or her own career and perhaps move on. That leaves behind new
    short termist clique members and sincere dupes who will mistakenly perpetuate the

    None of this costs the clique anything, since they are indemnified – it all sheets
    home to those they duped and captured – and they cannot afford to resile and give
    away their own previous misconduct. That is precisely why Leo Raffoul is being
    persecuted now, after he won and was reinstated; the clique cannot afford to have
    him around as a living reproach and refutation. It is necessary that one should die
    for the people…

    Oh, and “That’s employer code for- ‘I’m bloody glad he’s off our books mate’,” is
    quite enough to produce precisely the same effect, the long way around. When I
    stated that they would pick up the telephone and do harm, that is precisely the
    sort of circuitous thing I was including.

    Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at February 21, 2004 03:01 PM

    Observa – here are some links to Leo Raffoul related material:-



    Posted by: P.M.Lawrence at February 21, 2004 03:06 PM

  7. PML,
    For your general info, I was just bringing you up to date with with how employers have to deal with phone references nowadays. ie no aspersions cast on the particular case. In general small business is prepared to give an honest rap for good employees moving on. I guess it is because we realise we have smaller ladders to climb and the high flyers will often have to move on for promotion or better remuneration. I’m not sure about big corporations though.

  8. Today I received some good news. (Maybe, the poll results in the posts above relate to my experience, and of many others.)

    Recently, I have undergone a series of medical tests, including computerized tomography, heart scanning, and a bone marrow biopsy, which followed from the discovery of a low blood count. In retrospect, it would have been better if a blood test had been carried out earlier. The blood test was taken, in part, because a heart murmer was detected through the GP’s examination.

    I am not in a health fund, but am fortunate, through no fault of my doing, to be able to pay the gap payments to cover the costs of the specialist and the medical technology. At least, I now have confirmation that I do not have leukemia, which had seemed to me likely.

    The total medical cost to me, for these procedures, including bulk billing, is about $275. As a percentage of the total medical cost, that payment is low. The rest is made up by tax-funded Medicare. And yet, a taxi driver told me, he could not go have his skin cancer looked at because he could not afford the gap payment of around $100. Going to the doctor, or the dentist, he described as a luxury.

    So I am in the somewhat invidious position of receiving the benefits of a largely tax-funded health service, which do not seem available to all, on the assumption that the taxi driver cannot get the gap payment waived subject to a household income test.

    Nevertheless, the gap payment for that person acts as an impediment to receiving appropriate medical care. Whereas, I now have the peace of mind, and the creation of medical record to identify the current situation, and effectivly monitor future developments.

    1. There was a cool change in Sydney today (now 12 minutes ago).
    2. I feel a bit like a pin cushion in my left arm. I have not asked what happens to my multiple blood samples, other than to presume they were poured down the sink.

  9. Kez, They were in control for the whole time bar the goal. V never really look liked scoring and do not forget we should have had a penalty and David Z missed a sitter with his head!

  10. Alphacoward. I’m doing this from memory, but (apart from a downturn in the later part of the recession) the CAD/GDP ratio has stayed around 4 per cent. The main thing that’s changed has been attitude, going from too much panic to not enough.

  11. Alphacoward Part 2. On the prospects for a recession, I lean to the “lightbulb” model. The chance of a recession doesn’t necessarily increase with the length of the expansion – it can happen at any time. That said, there are certain kinds of recession that can only follow a long boom e.g. US 2001. Our housing bubble is a bit like that. If it isn’t already in obvious decline by the time Latham gets in, he may be in trouble.

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