116 thoughts on “In the press

  1. Ivor :
    You cannot tax land. You can only tax the income from land or sale of land.
    N.B. People can only pay taxes out of income.

    Those two points are unrelated, and the first is false. Many property owners pay rates, which is exactly a tax on land.

    We could also tax changes in the value of land. That, like a pay as you go capital gains tax would force some people to sell assets in order to pay the tax, just as rates already force people to do. My family has seen one landholding shrink from ~100 acres to ~1.5 hectares over about a century as the income from farming failed to meet the demands of an increasingly urban council. When my great-grandparents retired they sold most of the remaining land to the council for conversion to housing (some was donated as a park).

  2. @Moz of Yarramulla

    I distinguish between rates and land tax.

    rates also cause injustice but generally pensioners and low income people get rates adjustment according to income.

    So in effect – with this adjustment – rates are a form of income tax.

    Forcing people to sell land to pay tax does not interest me and does not help democracy particularly when the land does not earn an income.

    I think you should be agreeing with me?

  3. @Donald Oats
    Maybe, or they could give the gig to Freedom Boy. After all, he’s already a commissioner and he could fit this in between his other duties for far less than Lomborg would cost us.

    I mean, it’d be a part-time job just preventing windfarm construction.

  4. Well, to be consistent every form of energy must need a commissioner to take complaints. I await announcements on the;

    Coal Commissioner;
    Oil Commissioner;
    Natural Gas Commissioner;
    Wood burner Commissioner;
    Solar pV Commissioner;
    Solar Thermal Commissioner;
    Solar Updraft Commissioner;
    Hydro-power Commissioner;
    Geothermal Commissioner;
    Tidal Power Commissioner; and
    Nuclear Power Commissioner.

    Have I forgotten any?

    Wait hang on;
    The animal muscle power Commissioner; and
    The human muscle power Commissioner.

  5. @Troy Prideaux

    ‘Supply and demand mechanism’. Call it a ‘price system’ and I’d agree. In this case it is not only the residential housing market (partitioned as finely as desired for specific questions) but also the commercial real estate market, commodity markets, security markets, consumer goods markets, employment ‘markets’, …… anything that is traded under specified contracts. So, at any one time, many prices are relevant. Have you noticed that in the US share markets recorded substantially higher price rises than the Aussie equivalent after the onset of the GFC? Could it just be that the main support for the Aussie financial securities markets come from superannuation funds while a lot of domestic non-institutional private wealth went into the housing market, subsidised by negative gearing and reduced capital gains tax as well as superannuation rules, particularly interesting for self-managed super funds? Prior to the GFC, the USA is said to have had an ‘oversupply’ of houses (there was no obvious short term capital gain to be made) while Sydney is said to have excess-demand. The usage of these terms don’t correspond to the theoretical notions. What oversupply in the USA, given that some people lived or are living in cars, in caravans, on the street? What excess demand for housing in Sydney, given the observable amount of real estate for sale each week and the important empirical observation that the market share of investors has grown? In both cases, the evidence is strongly consistent with the ‘minimum wealth condition’ being strongly violate – only some people have choices. In words ascribed to Keynes – which I believe I had read many years ago – ‘the wrong people have the money’)

    The following article contains an example of the time horizon of property investors (bought in 2013, ready to accept an offer in November 2014 for reselling, not executed apparently because the buyer wanted to set of rental units vacant. Now the owner has issued notices of steep rent increases to the elderly if not old pensioners). No marks for noting that abolishing stamp duty would be most welcome by people who treat homes as merely tradeable asset.

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/elderly-residents-battle-rent-hikes-and-eviction-in-inner-sydney-as-rental-stress-rises-20150619-ghpqle.html

  6. When you think about it, with a new technology like wind power, that is only about 500 years old, you’d definitely not want to rush in and have major regrets later.

    Not like, say, if you coal mine caught fire, or your nuclear power plant melted down, or your natural gas exploded, or your transmission lines started major bushfires.

  7. @John Brookes
    “When you think about it, with a new technology like wind power, that is only about 500 years old, you’d definitely not want to rush in and have major regrets later.”

    Good one.

  8. @John Brookes

    It’s probably not because it’s new that is the problem.

    Being at least 8000 years old, maybe it’s too old?

    And it certainly isn’t renewable, once a breeze is gone it’s gone. And what about the days when the wind doesn’t blow. And what about at night when the wind blows, but it blows out your candle so you can’t see your map? And what if you use up all the wind so there is none left for kids to fly kites? That wouldn’t be fair.

  9. @John Brookes

    It’s probably not because it’s new that is the problem.

    Being at least 8000 years old, maybe it’s too old?

    And it certainly isn’t renewable, once a breeze is gone it’s gone. And what about the days when the wind doesn’t blow. And what about at night when the wind blows, but it blows out your candle so you can’t see your map? And what if you use up all the wind so there is none left for kids to fly kites? That wouldn’t be fair.

  10. @Ikonoclast
    Researchers at Columbia University have built a sweet little cart powered by the expansion and contraction of bacterial spores in response to changes in humidity. Since the bugs have had the concept for around a billion years, the scheme is quite reliable, if limited in acceleration. Bags I be Bacterial Spore Commissioner.

  11. The US has at most 10% of the world’s Catholics. Francis was certainly not aiming the encyclical as a polemic in domestic US politics. It would be crazy to think it won’t have a considerable effect in Poland, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil and other major Catholic countries.

  12. Ivor :
    @Moz of Yarramulla
    I distinguish between rates and land tax. So in effect – with this adjustment – rates are a form of income tax.

    I know you do, but I think you’re wrong. Both are “pay this % of the land value” and you’re saying that because the labels are different the effects are different. There are so many adjustments in the tax system that the exact nature of one of them doesn’t matter, because the system as a whole is so complex.

    Forcing people to sell land to pay tax does not interest me and does not help democracy particularly when the land does not earn an income.

    That’s pretty inconsistent. And as a response to “my family had to sell the farm to pay rates” it’s a non sequitur. Farms, at least in theory, are profit-making businesses. This one definitely was, it just wasn’t making enough to cover rates on 400 houses (which is what 100 acres is, expressed as the land value of 1/4 acre sections).

    Despite that, I think that land tax is an excellent thing and provided it’s not too high means that people either have to get value out of their land, or sell up. Especially in a tax system where the government reclaimed some of the value they add to land, that would benefit everyone. Viz, people like my ggparents would also have paid a big chunk of tax on the difference in value between a rural dairy farm and 400 sections 10km from the CBD (someone built a bridge, so distance changed from “a day in the trap travelling around the harbour” to “drive across the bridge”.

    I think you should be agreeing with me?

    Perhaps, but that would require a better argument that you seem capable of.

  13. I am sure J.Q. has made this point before. The strategic importance of the M.E. will rapidly decline as the importance of oil as an energy source declines. This is unless it can re-position itself a supplier of solar produced electricity to Europe. But then again, Spain alone probably has the area and conditions to supply solar generated electricity competitively to all of Europe so why buy it from the M.E?

  14. @Collin Street

    No Colin Street, when renting in Australia, you can afford a house that you couldn’t afford to buy.

    I just looked at some 2 bedroom apartments at 154 Mill Point Rd South Perth. If you want to rent, it will cost you about $500 per week. If you want to buy, it will cost you about $500,000.

    To service a loan of $500,000 it will cost about $650 per week. You need to through in another $50 per week for council rates etc as well. So renting is cheaper than buying.

    But not by much! Record low interest rates and reduced expectation of capital gains have seen to that.

  15. The high interest by Chinese people in australian real estate occurs for many reasons but one is that many Chinese people like australia. Its one of the costs of popularity that the price of real estate goes up -especially the attractive real estate. It’s just one of those things we have to manage as best we can.

  16. @John Brookes

    OMG! A 2 bedroom apartment costs $500,000? That is patently ridiculous.

    It costs $500 a week to rent? Also ridiculous.

    And it costs about $700 a week at least to service loan and pay costs!!!

    That whole situation is totally ludicrous. Without negative gearing, Chinese money and the housing bubble this whole economy comes crashing down. It’s completely unsustainable.

    When the music stops a LOT of people are going to lose a LOT of money. Supposed asset values with no real wealth behind them are just going to disappear in a puff of smoke (about the same time that the mirrors shatter and the sh** hits the fans).

  17. If you include Hong Kong and Taiwan, there are more than 500 “Chinese” billionaires.

    One reason for so much of that money ending up in Australian domestic real estate is that it is a relatively “safe” place to park wealth.

    The average middle class Chinese aren’t in the market. They are lucky if they get to be the tourists we see around the place. The Chinese working class are struggling to survive, never mind visiting here let alone buying Australian real estate.

  18. @Ikonoclast
    Both of my kids are renters in Sydney. Take out the grossly inflated rent and they might have a decent life. I regularly cook for them, in their shared housing, using the cheapest f+v, in order to show them how to eat cheap and still live well. Slow cooked meat. Stews. The Aussie version of Bolognese sauce with pasta. And all because the Chinese ruling class, the children of a totalitarian caste, like Novak described the Russian rulers, the Nomenklatura, are looking to hide their dirty money here, in Australia, with the complicity of Coalition retards, who know nothing beyond the smell of money. Along with the dirty Indonesian Generals who like Perth and FNQ for their bolt holes. They are all already lining up for a crack at the NT. They can see the opportunities opened up by Government money – they see the tradies, the leccos, plumbers, builders in the territory with waterside mansions, fishing boats, choppers and reckon they are entitled to a crack at this free for all. Then there’s the prostitution that always surrounds US bases. Eff me. It’s almost enough to make a man go up and have a go.

  19. @jungney

    I really reckon you should stop holding back!

    But much as the Chinese might be part of the problem, its more of a local thing. Negative gearing has always made investment properties attractive, and the capital gains tax concessions of Howard lit a fire under it. Then there is the “get rich quick” mentality and the ludicrous idea of “financial independence” which basically means not wanting to work for a living.

    When you have part of the population aiming to live very comfortably indeed off the labours of others, it can’t go well.

  20. So Chinese people buying property is bad? Let’s pretend that people don’t think it is bad because of racism, so what are we left with? If it’s not bad because the people buying properties aren’t pink enough, then it must be because foreign money is bad. Of course, when a pink person, sorry, I mean when an Australian citizen buys a house, the only reason their home mortage rates are so low is because of foreign money. So we have to put a stop to that. No more foreign investment in Australia. Now this will make us all poorer, but it will cause housing prices to fall as interest rates soar.

  21. Ronald Brak :
    If it’s not bad because the people buying properties aren’t pink enough, then it must be because foreign money is bad. … No more foreign investment in Australia.

    As the medical people say, the dose makes the poison. It’s also possible to allow foreign investment but restrict it in some ways (as the Chinese do very effectively). We could, for example, say that only tax residents can own houses. Or we could have a land tax that was, say, 0.1% of the land value times 2 to the power of the number of properties owned. Or we could just live in tents with our unicorns, which is more likely. Because our politicians love their “investment properties”, and would lose them if house prices halved.

  22. @Ronald Brak
    I can assure you that there’s been an even greater outcry in Hong Kong from mainland Chinese buying up property (mostly apartments actually) there and driving up prices and creating social problems. I think they’ve actually legislated something quite significant to curb it.
    Again, in most areas of Australia it’s unlikely to be much of an issue at all. In my area, it is.

  23. The ALP/LNP fascist duopoly voted together today, yet again, to pass legislation censoring the internet.

    The genuine opposition today consisted of the Greens, Lleyonhjelm, Ricky Muir and Glen Lazarus.

    This country would be in a much better place if the ALP/LNP fascist duopoly between them held less than 50% of the legislative vote and a genuine cross-section of our society had the REAL balance of power.

  24. @Megan
    I’m in complete agreement with you on this one. I don’t think people appreciate how creeping the use of this new law will be, perhaps thinking that a VPN will see them right: they are sadly mistaken.

  25. Donald Oats :
    @Megan
    I don’t think people appreciate how creeping the use of this new law will be, perhaps thinking that a VPN will see them right: they are sadly mistaken.

    Scarily, a lot of journalists are not bothered either. By that, or the criminalisation of journalism (ASIO laws, the migration secrecy laws, the other “extraordinary powers” laws ({cough} there are so many that the name is a bit misleading)). I was shocked when the ASIO powers went through with barely a murmur (they can grab anyone for questioning, hold them 24 hours, 5 years jail if they don’t answer questions). These days that’s just the way the law works.

  26. @Moz of Yarramulla

    they can grab anyone for questioning, hold them 24 hours, 5 years jail if they don’t answer questions

    AND, jail if they even tell anyone about it.

    All voted in thanks to the ALP/LNP fascist duopoly.

  27. The ALP/LNP fascist duopoly voted together today, yet again, to pass legislation censoring the internet.

    There are authoritarianisms that are not fascism.

  28. @Collin Street

    There are authoritarianisms that are not fascism.

    Perhaps, but the coalition demonstrate most of the characteristics of crypto-fascists, at least. The ALP, not so much – they are more like craven cowards.

  29. @J-D
    A partial definition: “Political ideology that imposes strict social and economica lmeasures as a method of empowering the government and stripping citizens of rights. … Some of the defining characteristics of fascism are: (1) racism, (2) militarism, (3) dictatorship, and (4) destructive nationalistic policies.”

    I’d say the Abbott government ticks a fair few of those boxes.

  30. So the model represented by Coles and Woolworths has the implicit endorsement of a majority of the Australian people.

    Not necessarily. It may be that a majority of the Australian people endorse neither, but as they lack any real alternative they simply choose what they decide is the least worst of the two.

  31. @zoot

    Yes. Although, I would probably put it as – they have no choice, it’s an indistinguishable duopoly.

    The ALP/LNP fascist duopoly is the same. People aren’t actually “choosing” at all. The best they can do is reject one over the other at any point.

    Endorsement suggests “choice” when in fact there is effectively no difference.

  32. @zoot and @Megan

    People are not coerced to shop at Coles and people are not coerced to shop at Woolworths. People have alternatives to both. Many people choose to avoid both Coles and Woolworths in favour of the alternatives. Other people could choose to do so. If they did, Coles and Woolworths would cease to dominate in the way that they do. The domination of Coles and Woolworths continues because people choose to buy from them, will continue as long as people continue to choose in the same way, and will disappear if people choose differently.

    People are not coerced to vote for the Coalition and people are not coerced to vote for Labor. People have alternatives to both. Many people choose to vote for one of those alternatives and neither the Coalition nor Labor. Other people could choose to do so. If they did, the Coalition and Labor would cease to dominate in the way that they do. The domination of the Coalition and Labor continues because of the way people choose to vote, will continue as long as people continue to choose in the same way, and will disappear if people choose differently.

  33. @J-D

    Does full choice really exist in a system which systematically and systemically both restricts and influences choices? People are all “free” to take off their clothes and run down the street in the buff. Why do they not do so?

    We do not live in a socio-political-economic world of free will or free choice. We live in a socio-political-economic world of constrained will and constrained choice. If the “system” is producing 10 litre tins of blue paint, 10 litre tins of red paint and thimble-sized tins of green paint what colours will people choose to paint their houses? Even though they are “free” to choose?

    I hope you can understand a parable. 🙂

  34. @J-D
    I know you get your jollies from being deliberately annoying in a pedantic, nit-picking, goal-post-shifting kind of way.

    Here’s another list of defining characteristics of fascism. See how many of them fit the Abbott government. I’ll grant our electoral system is still pretty honest, before you pick that particular nit.

  35. J-D says: The domination of Coles and Woolworths continues because people choose to buy from them, will continue as long as people continue to choose in the same way, and will disappear if people choose differently.

    In the other thread, Rational Liberal says: “free human beings can choose how to respond to charity. They can choose to be grateful, insulted, motivated…your problem is YOU choose to believe it is insulting and that gives you the right to tell other people what to do…by force….Now THATS motivated cognition….hahahahaha!..”

    They both think it is all about choice but I’m with Iko who asks: “Does full choice really exist in a system which systematically and systemically both restricts and influences choices?”
    Choice depends on motivation; understanding the choices people make requires understanding the motivations but even before we make a choice we have to be aware that there are other choices.

    There is always the path that we didn’t even know we could take.

    Look at how Rational Liberal reveals one of the things that motivated him; he says that he chose his alias because he ‘knew’ that it would annoy people. But his choice of name didn’t annoy me, so he is motivated here by a belief that isn’t even true, I hardly noticed his alias except to wonder briefly why someone would choose such a boring name when you could choose to be funny or pay tribute or just be yourself.

    Or this claim could have been a post-hoc justification of his choice of name after it was challenged. What was the motivation if that was the case? To protect his ‘self’ image that requires he always be the winner. Like our PM, he sees life as an eternal struggle in which there are two sides. Sigh.

    Anyway, back to Rational Liberal and his motivations.

    If he is telling us the truth that he is motivated to annoy people, why is that the case? Is it because he has that sort of personality – and is this nature or nurture?

    Does this sort of personality become annoyed by certain words himself and then ‘projects’ that way of functioning onto everyone else?

    I’m using projection as Freud described it in his list of defense mechanisms that hold up quite well as an early recognition of what is now called ‘motivated cognition’.

    For rational liberal, it would be so easy if I was motivated to be grateful for a system in which I must beg or ask nicely for things that I need rather than be able to earn them. But why would a free person be motivated to think like that?

  36. @Ikonoclast

    Please note that it is not a case of my asserting without evidence that people can vote for a party that is neither Labor nor the Coalition. I am simply reporting the demonstrable fact that many people do vote for parties that are neither Labor nor the Coalition. It is a denial of reality to insist that people don’t have that choice when people are observably exercising precisely that choice.

  37. @Julie Thomas

    I did not write and do not think ‘it is all about choice’; that is a misrepresentation of my views.

    The question ‘Why do the majority of Australian shoppers shop at either Coles or Woolworths?’ is a good one and so is the question ‘Why do the majority of Australian voters vote for either the Coalition or Labor?’ is also a good one. I’d like to know the answer to both of those. But it will hinder, not help, to find answers to these questions if the demonstrable facts are denied.

  38. @J-D

    Okay, happy to admit that I have misrepresented your view. I do that; but it is not a deliberate choice; it must be some sort of motivation I have that I am not currently able to process.

    I agree that demonstrable facts are important and we do need to understand what motivates people to vote against their own interests or to not even vote, and to understand the motivation that underlies the way people choose their supermarket.

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