Monday, November 24, 2003

Choice and the bench

Justice Michael Kirby is wrong on one crucial point. He is right to avoid the odious literalism of Sir Garfield Barwick. He is, however, wrong to specify that the interpretive posture should involve the people's wishes, the common good, or, especially, some godlike, elitist view of the infinite wisdom of the judiciary.
The only proper interpretive line involves trying to decipher the rubbish that at times emanates from parliament. Has the judiciary ever referred a point of law back to the drafters of that law? Has it ever seen bad law and asked for a clarification before it becomes a problem?
Peter Lander, Neutral Bay, November 23 (SMH)

I fought the law ...
Ironically, my role covering these stories presented my greatest challenge as a journalist. Some of those, especially those associated with the ALP, broke off contact with me, apparently believing that I had betrayed them and their causes. I found this more personally upsetting than not being admitted to practise law. It also confirmed my view that most lawyers, journalists and other professionals tend to hide abuse in their own ranks.
· Greatest Lovers in the World [SMH]

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Using rewards to catch white collar criminals

In this report Bruce Chapman (Centre for Economic Policy Research, ANU) and Richard Denniss (The Australia Institute) outline a new approach both to detecting and punishing the crimes of insider trading and collusion. They propose that financial incentives be offered to individuals or firms participating in illegal activity in return for the provision of evidence against other participants. In order to ensure that attractive incentives can be offered, and large fines levied, it is also proposed that a revenue contingent payment mechanism be utilised to extract both incentive payments and fines from firms and individuals convicted of these offences. The use of a revenue contingent penalty payment increases the certainty of collecting penalties while reducing the incentive for recourse to bankruptcy.
· Incentive payments and fines [(The Australia InstitutePDF file)]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

More than just a roof

The reality of family homelessness is one of the major social tragedies confronting our society. As this research report argues, thousands of Queenslanders experience this unacceptable reality each year. Social policies which address educational, health and welfare needs all become secondary when finding somewhere secure to live is the critical and urgent need. The report's findings suggest that measures beyond the mere provision of housing are required to address the needs of family groups facing a housing crisis.
· Study of family homelessness in Queensland [(PDF file) ]
· Generation Xcluded: no kids, no house, no money! [(PDF file) ]
· The Hawke Policy Website

Time to Recognize the Politics of Suburban Sprawl

On the pages of nearly every newspaper in the nation, there are daily articles on suburban sprawl. Attempts to get sprawl under control started in the 1950s relatively soon after sprawl exploded after the end of World War II. They all failed. Even now, with a strong national “smart growth” movement, unless sprawl-haters understand sprawl politics and the power of the sprawl lobby, by mid-century with a population lunging toward 400 million, it will be too late to save so much of what so many Americans value, including public greenspaces, rural lifestyles, farmland and social capital.
· Caught in the poverty of wealth [ CommonDreams]

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Assessing Australia's Innovative Capacity in the 21st Century
Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA)

Innovation is essential to a nation's prosperity. This report assesses the evolution of the Australian innovation environment over the past two decades. It then proposes a 3-part strategy for furthering Australian future innovation: (i) strengthening common innovation infrastructure, (ii) encouraging regional industrial clusters and (iii) upgrading linkages between both. The PDF format paper is available on the internet · .

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Kindest Cut

Virginia's strip clubs don't have to pay taxes on the drinks that patrons buy for dancers or on the private dances that they provide
· Taxing of Virgins [HeraldMail ]
Progress and Poverty
A hundred years ago a young unknown printer in San Francisco wrote a book he called Progress and Poverty. He wrote after his daily working hours, in the only leisure open to him for writing. He had no real training in political economy. Indeed he had stopped schooling in the seventh grade in his native Philadelphia, and shipped before the mast as a cabin boy, making a complete voyage around the world.
· Cabin Boy [ Progress]
Exclusive Steve Wallman, founder and CEO of FOLIOfn (www.foliofn. com)
Once upon a time in the late nineties, people trusted their brokers to keep them swimming in the black. After all, the stock market moved in one direction (up), and analysts' optimistic predictions kept finding validation in ever higher stock prices. But since the stock market began to decline in the Spring of 2000, people aren't quite as trusting of the so-called soothsayers and brokers whose calls now appear more the result of momentum than any broad insight of the markets.
· Late 90s [Bizreport ]

Monday, November 17, 2003

Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax
T he Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax In state legislatures across the nation, lawmakers are scrambling to cope with revenue shortfalls. Increasingly, however, they can't look to the corporate income tax for much help.
· Taxes [Tax ]
· Taxes [ Tax]

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Stereotyping all homeless people as menacing lawbreakers is simply wrong. Homeless people are as varied as anyone. Some are families down on their luck, some are people with mental problems, substance abuse problems, or both -- they run the gamut
· Poverty [SouthbendTribune ]
· He is so famous, he can get a personal audience with U.S. President George W. Bush or Pope John Paul II to talk about important issues like poverty and starvation, the injustice of Third World debt [Telegraph ]

Let's talk taxes

I recently noticed that for federal taxes with no deductions, the income of a single person can be $7,705 to owe $1 tax. I wonder who needs that $1 more, the federal government or the person. Last year the Republicans seemed to brag that taxpayers in the top 5 percent income bracket paid 55 percent of all the taxes. Maybe they were gloating because the top 5 percent of the wealthiest have 95 percent of the wealth, and should be paying 95 percent of the taxes. No wonder all those people who earned $7,705 need to pay $1.
· 5 percent of the wealthiest have 95 percent of the wealth [Purcell ]

Sunday Sermon: Cold River & Bible

It is not everyday I discover I am being quoted in a sermon (smile)

A Funeral for the Church
I'm 35 with a young family a long way from home. I love this Church, and yet hate so much of what it has stood for in the past. I believe it can and will change, and I want to be there to see it happen. I'm crazy enough to believe in resurrection, and for that reason have no regrets about saying to the church of my youth 'Rest in Peace'. I will remain at the edge, as only at the edge can I be faithful to the inspiration of my faith, Jesus who took risks, was always open to change and valued people over institutions.
Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. And then out of the ashes something new and exciting will emerge.

· The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do [St Matthews]
Cold Reality

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Bank urges tax audits on housing
THE Reserve Bank wants the Australian Taxation Office to crack down on investors who deliberately buy loss-making properties to negative gear.
Although interest rates have halved in the past decade, the Reserve Bank puts most of the blame for the big jump in house prices on tax breaks for property investors.

· Negative Gearing [ CourierMail]
The banks here are ripping us off. Not just one of them, but all of them. They seem to have forgotten that when we open bank accounts we are lending them our precious cash. They are not doing us a favour in letting us have accounts; we are doing them a favour in giving them our money to play with.
Because they do play with it. Banks invest our money and make a profit on the interest they get. Their income is the difference between the interest they charge us and the interest they pay.

· Aussie Bank [SMH ]
This weekend, the Guinness Book of World Records will sell its 100 millionth copy.

Digital library
So: e-books are handy when I'm concerned only with text, when I want to take a lot of text in a very compact way, and when I want to mark up heavily. The upshot for me of having a growing library of e-books is that I can take better care of my printed volumes and focus a bit more on buying print with an eye toward quality, since I've got this option for uses where aesthetics matter less.
· eBooks [AboutLastNight]
· Understanding Trees and Woods...

Books are fun and interesting to read, but the Sunday Book Review is neither... the review hardly ever helps you answer the key question: Should I spend $4.85 on 'Tis eBook?
· New York Times Sunday Book Review [Boston Globe 11/13/03]
Hornby Offers Peek at Novel-in-Progress
Reading from a novel tentatively titled Kings and Queens of Shambles, Hornby told the story of three people who meet when they’re all trying to kill themselves by jumping from the same roof.
“Out of the way, losers!” yells Jess, as she charges the other two characters already occupying the prime suicide spot.

· A funny tone about sad things [ Crimson]

Friday, November 14, 2003

· RR: Rene [SMH ]
· FL: Frank [SMH ]
Generous tax breaks
Investors were driven by a belief that house prices could never fall for long, while easy and cheap finance meant homeowners could buy an investment property without having to spend a cent up-front.
A key lure was tax breaks, allowing investors to cut the out-of-pocket loss on a $400,000 property from $331 a week to $81 a week.
Negative gearing let investors write losses off against other income, while they could also claim for depreciation of the property.

· Negative gearing [SMH]

Against us

When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans.
It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, "Der Feind hoert mit" (The enemy is listening): My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me.

Soros: Beating Bush is my life's mission
GEORGE Soros, one of the richest men in the world, has given away nearly £3 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating the president of the United States, George Bush.
· A matter of life and death [Scotsman]

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Decay of Public Language
The corporate world is awful at using language effectively, and we're all the poorer for it
· World Today [ABC ]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

· Election Cuts [SMH]
The Money Trap:
Soros and his Institute has a brilliant new website peppered with engaging ideas and stories.
Corruption has no easy definition—behavior tolerated as normal, or at least necessary, in one place may be seen as deviant and punishable by fines and jail time in another. Yet all forms of corruption, even the seemingly trivial, erode the bonds of society. Corruption must be recognized for what it is: a looming global crisis.
One paper focuses on the undisclosed deals between multinational corporations and governments that help officials enrich themselves at the public’s expense. And it shows how even strong laws against corruption in established democracies can be riddled with loopholes to benefit wealthy groups that dominate the legislative process.

· Stopping the Spread of Corruption [OSI PDFformat]

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Lady Luck?
- A Bumper Sticker -
Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
Did you hear about the New 3 Million Dollar Alabama State Lottery?

· The winner gets 3 dollars a year for a million years [NSW Lotteries]
· Healthy Skepticism [Phil Adams]

Monday, November 10, 2003

Swapping Political Favours
Follow the monkey money...
· Pollies, Porkies, Pokies [SMH ]

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I never had sex with that woman...Clinton; But

Living through Secret Affair with Hillary Bray Clinton
Martin Sikora reviewed my book back in August 2002 and publishers of Hillary Clinton pinched his idea and now some readers who use search engine download Cold River and Living History (smile)
Customer Rating: (4 stars)
Posted on 8/23/2002
Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can’t ever really know. But a man known as Jozef Imrich lived through it and he tells his story of growing up in communist Czechoslovakia. But ‘Cold River’ is so much more than just a story, a riveting story of trial and escape, and of rebirth. It is, in its essence, a moving and dramatic tale of one man’s quest for freedom; not just in a physical sense, but an emotional one as well. This e-book literally sent chills up my spine. After you finish reading, you can't get certain images out of your head. Even as you are going along, reading it, there are parts where you can't believe you’re breathing. It might seem hard to believe, but there are no photos or maps in this book.

· Jozef [Bookbooters ]
· Hillary [Bookbooters]
Federal-state law flaw keeps insider trader out of jail
Convicted insider trader Rene Rivkin has used lax federal laws to turn his periodic detention into a farce.
He could keep getting medical certificates to have his detention postponed indefinitely.

· Outside [SMH ]

The exact science of hindsight
Some say economists are people who don't know what they are talking about - and make you feel it's your fault. But maybe the joke is on those who take them seriously.
· Deflating Joke [SMH]
· Land Tax
Blog Sleuth Hipper
Eurovavant points out this fantastic bit of blogging detective work on the HipperCritical blog. Some lawyer was allowed onto the New York Time's Op-Ed pages yesterday with an editorial arguing that Iraq should be required to pay its international debt in full. Turns out (but the NYT didn't bother to provide any clue about this) that he's a lawyer whose clients are those companies and kingdoms to whom Iraq owes that money. Our sleuth "Hipper" took to the Google trail and found that out, plus a whole lot of other juicy information - such as that the lawyer is on record in the past as urging the forgiving of Russia's foreign debt. (But Russia was the one paying his fees then, you see. That was then; this is now.)
· Hippercritical

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Tricks Assets transfer
In the eyes of creditors, there was perhaps now little difference between the two directors: wealthy wives, pre-collapse lifestyles, assets out of reach.
· Wives [SMH]

Friday, November 07, 2003

OECD figures
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (has recently released the 2003 edition of OECD in Figures: Statistics on the Member Countries.
· Comparison [PDF]
As the rate rise hits wallets, the Government is sure to deflect attention elsewhere...
All Rise
Home borrowers may be grappling with a second interest rate increase within weeks, experts warned yesterday after the Reserve Bank's unexpected decision to lift rates for the first time in nearly 18 months.
· 14 Kurdish men [SMH]

Thursday, November 06, 2003

All Rise
Home borrowers may be grappling with a second interest rate increase within weeks, experts warned yesterday after the Reserve Bank's unexpected decision to lift rates for the first time in nearly 18 months.
· Investors winners [SMH]
How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]
· A race to the bottom? [National Europe Centre, Australian National University]

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dark Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen
George Bush's America, the wealthiest nation in history, faces a growing poverty crisis.
· Amerikan Winter [Guardian](UK)
Google set to rewrite the rules of advertising
When adults sit down to use the web they generally do two things: check their emails and then do a search (teenagers either chat or download music, but that's a whole different kettle of piracy)
· Kettle of piracy [SMH]

Monday, November 03, 2003

Sometimes a big 100-watt goes off over my tired, saltier than peppered head and I see things in a whole new light...

The Truth About Pop Culture
Almost everyone, it seems, blames the mass media for the increasingly violent nature of American society. And for the corruption of our children. And for our rampant materialism and consumerism. And for the increasing sexualization of our culture,” writes David Shaw, media critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Karen Sternheimer is one of the few exceptions. The 34-year-old sociologist at USC has written a book, It's Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture's Influence on Children, and in it she argues that the even though the media are a "central force" in our society, "media culture is not the root cause of American social problems."
Though Shaw isn’t ready to let the media off the hook so easily and thinks Sternheimer overstates her case, he praises her central argument: “‘The most pressing crisis facing American children today is not media culture but poverty,’ she rightly says.
“In her view, the other ‘big bad wolves of childhood’ are family violence, child abuse and neglect, inadequate health care and the under-funding of education. But it's easier for politicians to blame the media than to budget the money -- and spend the political capital -- necessary to address these problems.”

· Her finger isn't pointed in the usual direction [LA Times]
· Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own [NY Times]
The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures.

Amazon Says Search Inside Boosts Sales
Despite all the ink given to those authors who have qualms about the program, not many have asked to have their books removed.
Travel writer Rick Steves gives a nice quote to one of the Seattle papers: If someone's cheap and desperate enough to download my entire book, then carry it all over Europe, anyone who sees this mass of papers is going to ask, 'Whose book is so great that someone would go to that length for it?' And they'll see my name, and buy a copy.
Ok, deep breath...
The Czech for the greatest writer of all times has arrived...
· Dragon: A Little Perspective on my royalty Cheque from Cold River [Crunch Time]

Sunday, November 02, 2003

According to today's Technorati [ ] we have ten in top hundred most influential links out of the net. Thanks to all our readers for putting us there. We are proud to be in the same vicinity as CNN, BBC and NY Times.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Yukos Oil
Évery so often the arrest of one man involves more than the charges he may face and his fate before the court. In these rare instances, the legal proceedings are a distraction from the larger moral and strategic implications, and so they are intended to be. The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky by Russian secret services in Siberia over the weekend is one such arrest.
· The Failure of Putin's Russia [WashingtonPost ]
Antipodean Machiavellis: Israel v Switzerland
For some, the secret world of Swiss banking hasn't been all it's cracked up to be. It reopened old wounds.
It wasn't hard to imagine that half the population of Sydney's eastern suburbs were frantically ringing their offshore accountants and lawyers this week.
It appears that even one's financial activities in the world's great tax havens cannot be assured of absolute secrecy.

· Rene's Swiss connection: Key Links [SMH]
· Swiss and Taxes
The participants in the Offset Alpine affair are some of our best-known political, media and finance personalities. They are the men who stand up for one another in court, on talkback radio and in political circles. Taking leaves out of Trevor Kennedy's book? Like every business wants to controll the flow of currency, every government wants to control the news, and you don't have to shoot reporters or imprison them to do so.

Swiss Code of Secrecy Carr: A Master News Manipulator
We come to NSW where the state is in the hands of a master news manipulator, the Premier and former journalist, Bob Carr. Carr has worked assiduously to snuff out sources of bad news. To this end, he is bundling every independent watchdog agency which caused the slightest hint of trouble to his Government into the NSW Ombudsman's office. The Privacy Commissioner, the Inspector-General of Prisons and the Child Death Review team are being swallowed up by the monster agency.
· Watchdog lost its teeth, bark by new secrecy provisions, legalisms, and the exercise of discretion [SMH ]