40 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. The fat tax seems is being floated in the Australian media again. The idea is that food that makes you fat should have an estra tax on it. This seems to assume that people who can’t make sound decisions about what to put in their bodies are somehow automatically able to make sound decisions about how much to take out of their wallets.

    On the whole I think that sin taxes suck. Especially when the sin provides its own built in negative feedback mechanism. I also think that they are of only modest benefit and generally only for those least commited to the sin. In other words their impact is only at the margin.

    The problem with fattening food is that the gratification is immediate and the pain is long term. Fat taxes are unlikely to change this situation because financial pain is also mostly long term. You can spend more than you earn for a long time these days. And when the bank comes looking for you it is unlikely that you will find cause to associate the pain with donuts.

    If they are serious about stopping people from eating fattening food they need some means to associate immediate pain with the activity. This is essentially how I kicked my addiction to bacon. It took me about two hours of personally induced neural associations about 8 years ago to give up bacon. I have eaten it perhaps twice since then but generally with a sence of revolution. I won’t say what bacon is emotionally associated with in my brain, but it aint pleasant.

    One way they could do this is to put flavours in fatty foods that make them taste terrible. However this is likely to be effective so it will never win any votes. If the government makes it compulsory for donuts to taste like vomit then there will be less donut eaters but also probably a backlash donut party that will win the next election.

    Fat taxes are one more feel good pill that makes us think we are serious about solving a problem when if fact we are not. They are in fact symptomatic of the problem that is trying to be addressed. They represent the notion that if we are fat it is the governments responsibility to make us thin again.

    When I go to supermarket of service station with my kids and we go past the checkout they invariably draw my attention to the multitude of lollies and chocolates. I loudly share their enthusiasm for the bright colours and marketing gimics (eg toy inside chocolate egg etc). When they ask if we can buy some I tell them with equal enthusiasm (and usually ellivated volume so everybody else in the shopping queue can hear) how eating chocolates and lollies makes you fat like a pig (or sometimes hippo). The kids seem to love this game and they never give me any grief about the fact that we don’t buy them junk food.

  2. John,
    In view of your work to achieve meaningfull Aboriginal Employment in Communities i am wondering what you think of the Howard Government’s proposed NT Landrights Legislation that will take away “ownership” of Sea Rights including Fishing Rights that were given to Aboriginal people by the High Court.
    To me it’s a politically inspired ,shamefull theft of a poor Racial Group’s Legal Asset ,pure and simple . It becomes a Racist Act against the people of our black First Nation.

  3. My eldest boy played his first competitive season of football this year.
    His team won the premiership and then the Grand final on Saturday without losing a game and conceding a goal!

  4. My eldest boy played his first competitive season of football this year.
    His team won the premiership and then the Grand final on Saturday without losing a game and conceding a goal!

  5. BRING BACK, now just what sort of football did he play – did he play the ancient famous game of Aussie Rules??

  6. I am noticeably into middle age, noticeably sparse on top, and wear my remaining hair in a pony tail coz I am lazy, tight on the money, and don’t give a monkey’s about fashion.

    My very young, but increasingly verbal and cheeky niece accused me yesterday of having a comb over to cover up my thinning. (The otherwise lovable little moppet is lying! I have never pretended I wasn’t going bald. There is no vanity involved. Truly. Would I lie to my respectworthy fellow bloggers?)

    The young today just have no respect. (Though they never did, and neither should they.)

    Are my glorious hirsute summers past?

    Is it time for a number 4 all over every 2-3 months for the rest of my days?

    Feigns resigned melodramatic acceptance of the way things are.


  7. On the bright side, I can still grow a beard as impressive as the good Professor’s, though with substantially more, umm, silver in it.

  8. My late uncle Arnold grew a beard to disguise himself when he was on the dodge during the occupation of France. Unfortunately his Irish genes made it grow out red, so he had to disguise it further with black shoe polish. That would probably work for a “silver” beard too.

  9. “That would probably work for a “silverâ€? beard too.”

    What about the other increasingly silver hairy parts? Chest, back, that sort of thing, not to mention that other certain area. You know the one I am talking about. That’s right. The armpit. There, I said it.

    It adds up to a lot of shoe polish, for me at least.

    And I am guessing that the smell of a whole tin of fresh boot polish, widely applied, doesn’t exactly attract the ladies.

    Like I said, resigned aceptance.

    I do hear that standard male baldness is associated with higher testosterone levels, which apparently does attract the ladies, so it is not all bad.

  10. BBEP – congrats – he may never play in another GF, let alone win one. Bad luck he plays such a crap sport. At least make a man of him by geting him to play Union or Aussie Rules.

  11. ANFSCD, 23 August, public talk from 7 pm, Peak Oil and Permaculture – Local Solutions to Oil Decline, Brisbane Table Tennis Centre, 86 Green Terrace, Windsor and in other capital cities at later dates, see http://www.holmgren.com.au/ . For the pessimists who are looking for some hope.

  12. Kartiya, it was football, the world game.

    Razor, crap is a noun not an adjective.

    football is now finished and now cricket awaits!!

  13. Unqualified congratulations from me, Homer.

    Terje, I look forward to reading the revised edition of your essay on sin taxes. By then you might have decided exactly what your argument is.

  14. “without losing a game and conceding a goal! ”
    A great achievement. Did they concede any behinds?

  15. spiros,
    I am the great grandson of the first Greek immigrant to come to Australia.

    No self respecting person of Greek heritage would view an Aussie rules game!

    By the way the final was won on the golden goal rule in extra-time so it was real OZ world cup tension material.

    I have to sat being involved in training kids at football or cricket is immensely enjoyable.

    Seeing a boy improve after looking like he could do little is even better than seeing a real quality player improve to Cruyff or Flintoff status!

  16. From Tim Fischer’s article, (link posted by stephen bartos above)

    “THE VIETNAM WAR was a massive intrusion on Australia, its cohesion and its fabric. It was even worse for the United States…”

    So strange…just can’t work it out. There was a war, it was in Vietnam, which Australia and the United States invaded. But the upheavals and incursions to Vietnam and it’s people must have been so minor to Tim, so far removed from his consciousness, that they barely rate a mention.

    And then there is his mealy-mouthed language: “…the Americans oversighted in Vietnam the death of many innocents…” Er..I think you mean “caused” Tim, don’t you?

    The only compelling thing in Tim’s article is his self-centred ignorance of the true cost to Vietnam. But I guess to Tim this cost was worth it to “save Thailand from communist invasion”. And what RWDB can disagree with that?

  17. “No self respecting person of Greek heritage would view an Aussie rules game!”


    Spiro Kourkoumelis
    Ang Christou
    Josh Francou
    Paul Koulouriotis
    Anthony Koutoufides
    Angelo Lekkas
    Jason Trianidis

  18. Demetriou is a Cypriot.

    You will notice I didn’t the include the Macedonian, Peter Daicos, either.

  19. I missed this last week, but Howard put out a press release attacking Labor’s ‘hidden’ carbon tax plan. I’ve taken it apart line-by-line and compared Howard’s claims with what the ABARE report actually says. As usual its a gross distortion of the numbers produced by ABARE to suit Howard’s politcal ends, namely, to defend the coal industry at all costs.

    Link: Read my analysis here.

  20. Seeker – no 4 is for wimps. Go no 1.

    With a beard.

    The first grey hair on the scrote is a grim moment. And the idea of boot polish on said region reminds me much too much of what passed for fun in the more savage and predatory elements of my high school.

  21. Terje
    One way of looking at a fat tax is the way that many of the things that make us fat also happen to be extremely cheap. I’m thinking here of High Fructose Corn Syrup (arguably a result of market distortion and subsidies) that’s used because it’s cheap and it contributes to longer shelf life (another saving). So what exists is a market incentive to make food that while adding calories, adds little to nutrition and also makes it extremely cheap to simply increase volume as a way of increasing appeal. If we were to target these types of ingredients then it would make healthier alternatives more competive or would make it harder to trade on portion size. People who were particularly keen for the taste of Corn Syrup could do so but at an increased premium.
    I’m not saying this is necessarily practical but it does seem more feasible than what you’re portraying it as.
    I also think to call it a sin tax is misleading as it’s not about sin or about taking chocolate away but dealing with a serious public health problem. We could argue about what people should do but then we could also look at what people do do.
    I think you should keep eating bacon BTW, on corn pancakes, with bananas, and maple syrup.

  22. these names are merely of Papandreouian fantasy.

    What happened for Greeks to celebrate?
    when Greece won the Euro championship and then when their football team came to Hellas sorry Melbourne.

    A Greek was supposedly playing Thugby league but he was a doctor and therefore obviously not of Greek heritage!

    I can’t get any to play cricket though. Greek men in summer have a duty to do nothing but talk inanely to each other whilst doing nothing.
    Studying philosophy at University is apparently a great help.

  23. Anthony,

    Thanks for a well considered response. I will have to give your points some thought.


  24. David Tiley

    Seeker – no 4 is for wimps. Go no 1.

    With a beard.

    Well, that would leave just wraparound sunnies, dirty clothes, and a Harley to finish the picture. (I am told that I’ve already got the attitude.)

    The first grey hair on the scrote is a grim moment.

    True, true. And not something you can deny when it happens. Passed that marker some time ago, I am afraid. Like I said, resigned acceptance.

    And the idea of boot polish on said region reminds me much too much of what passed for fun in the more savage and predatory elements of my high school.

    Private boarding school, was it? Reminds me of when the late and very great comedian Peter Cook was asked in an interview how he passed his (English private boarding) school days. To which he only half-jokingly replied: “Mostly avoiding buggery.” Still cracks me up.

  25. My name is George Kordonis and I live in a mid sized city named Hamilton in Ontario Canada. I work for a media outlet and deal alot with world events . I’d really like to know what is the general feeling where you are on the Israel conflict going on right now. What do Australians in general believe I know I am asking for a blanket statement. But there must be a prevailing mood at least reflected in the daily TV news. Thank you

    George Kordonis

  26. George Kordonis, you might want to take a look at Aussie blogger Antony Loewentstein’s blog. It not only explains the current debate, but also explains why the debate is not more widely enjoined.

    The lucky country no longer sells sheep, wheat and cows, but coal, wheat and uranium. We continue to enjoy a pleasant slumber.

  27. “Mostly avoiding buggery.� Still cracks me up.

    Stephen Fry also has a great line. When severely bullied at school by hearties for his manifestly homosexual ways, he pleaded, “Ohhh don’t hit me, you’ll just give me an erection.”

  28. Some people say that i am internationaly feared not only my beard but also for my supreme strength, i am a gripper! Anyway, you’re beard is a few pathetic strands of bum fluff compared to my manly 5 o’clock shadow. Cover up, deciet, faking, these are the harsh words of the dictionary regarding the word beard.Do these professors at oxford not think of my feelings when they say words with such malice, maybe , just maybe i mite like my beard the way it is. The law is an ass, democracy is societies fool, i pray for the day when a man can look down the street with a hefty amount of facial hair and have no worries! I pray for the day when a beard will be seen as a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness!! I pray for the day when having a beard is not , i repeat not a disability!!!!!

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