Sunday, February 29, 2004

To get along you go along...Journalists increasingly find themselves facing invidious choice; become cipher for the spin of politicians (in power) and get easy access and the information that builds professional success, or remain outsiders and trade easy access for critical independence. That some journalists choose career success over independence is part of the legacy spin. That many resist is one reason why there is still some honour, however tarnished, in the grisly business of journalism.
Sexing it Up

Acosta-ing the Opposition with Contempt for Alternative Government
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: This censure motion is a joke, just like everything else that Opposition members do in this House...
Just in case you missed the key points
1. Costa has "contempt" for those on the other side of the benches
2. Opposition - lazy, incompotent (Sadly half true)
3. The Coalition members should donate their salaries to the press gallery
· Sexing it Down [ via Stephen Hill smells a whiff of the fall of PJK all over again?]

Roger Cameron of Marrickville wants to congratulate CityRail staff on their "proactive, safety-aware, customer-focused approach to carriage maintenance", demonstrated yesterday near Wynyard. Travelling north at about 9.45am he heard the guard laconically announce: Would the passengers travelling in the car with the open door please kick it . . . it will then close.
· Doors
...The "killer" hospitals

Wealth Postmodernist wizard J.I. Imrich and 63 other new faces join the ranks of the wealthiest people on the globe.
· What kind of postmodernist are you!?

Tax Matters
· America is now more reliant on the one tax that stifles job creation and new employment: the payroll tax.
· See Also The Democrats' mantra this election year is "tax the rich." Trouble is, taxing the rich amounts to eating the seed corn
· While Labor is apparently considering large-scale tax reform, John Quiggin says the public has other priorities on its mind ] [ courtesy of Czech out newish homesite of John Quiggin: the King of Blogging]
· See Also We must be due for a financial crisis any day now
· See Also Tax & Spend

USA Today's study of 2003 releases found that movie critics' grades had a significant relationship to the money the movies grossed. In general, the better the reviews, the higher the box office. Even a half-star meant millions of dollars more for a movie's total take. How pretentious is that?
· You're a Chorible(sic) Man, Aren't You? One Star in Jozef’s closet: A literary houdini.

Why do guys like Anschutz, Wasserstein get into publishing?
For fun (and ideological reasons for some). Jack Shafer writes: They usually join the game because they're already bulging at the seams with profitable investments and are bored with their yachts, airplanes, mansions, sports franchises, race horses, and priceless works of art, and they view publications (correctly) as exciting diversions from their conventional holdings.
· How to attract the opposite sex: Hopelessly utopian. Desperately needed [link first seen at Tim Porter]

My mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal, part pirate.
· See Also A rebel goes to water: It's all right for you; we are locked in situations X, Y and Z . . . a great feeling of powerlessness
· See Also Oprah: UK
· See Also Richard & Judy's book club

Saturday, February 28, 2004

A reputation, it is said, is one of a person's most precious assets... Some reputations (animals) are more equal than others

The World's Richest Families
I didn't need blog to build an empire. My rise to the top of the publishing ranks has mouths flapping...
· Mouth of Ironies [ courtesy of Fire-breathing survivor ]
· Larry Page and Sergey Brin are worth $1bn each: Google Founders
· See Also is a 'best-of-breed-banking' service

Definitions are boundaries, and boundaries are anathema to Webloggers. Moreover, the best Weblogs are always shifting and evolving, always on their way to being something else.
- Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune

Law grinds the poor, and rich men rule the law.
-- Oliver Goldsmith

Rich the most eager to accept welfare
Ronald Reagan memorably complained about welfare queens, but he never told us that the biggest welfare queens are the already wealthy. Their lobbyists fawn over politicians, giving them little bits of money -- campaign contributions, plane trips, dinners, golf outings -- in exchange for huge chunks of taxpayers’ money. Millionaires who own your favorite sports teams get subsidies, as do millionaire farmers, corporations, and well-connected plutocrats of every variety. Even successful, wealthy TV journalists.
That’s right, I got some of your money too.

· Confessions of a Welfare Queen
· Big and Bad: Cars have to meet stringent fuel-efficiency regulations. Trucks don't
· turns your blog into a bound book ]

Friday, February 27, 2004

In the 17th century MPs quoted the Bible, in the 18th and 19th centuries the classics, in the 20th century nothing...

Cross your fingers and hope for the best Dictatorship
It's funny what the Hansard parliamentary reporters hear and what they miss. At a committee hearing last week, the Greens MP Ian Cohen was grilling the head of Sydney Water, Greg Robinson, about sewerage outfalls.
"I have been down to the outfalls . . . faeces the size of a man could get through the filtration processors at Malabar and I went down there with my surfboard one day," Cohen said sternly.
Other people in the room then heard One Nation MP David Oldfield say to Cohen: "Are you saying you are a piece of faeces the size of a man?", and the groans that followed. Which is odd, because the Hansard reporters record only Oldfield's more sensible comments about depth and distance from shore and such. Censorship on the grounds of good taste perhaps?

· Rough mouth: Fine line Censorship [ via ]
Parliament’s back: Sage PIC Commissioner

Paul Keating: Why we're left singing for our super

Taxman, US watchdog on NAB's tail
Fears of broader risk management and compliance problems at National Australia Bank were confirmed yesterday when the bank revealed it could be facing a tax bill and penalties of more than $543 million.
· Securities and Exchange Commission
· See Also West Banks, seizing millions of dollars that was financing terrorism

A Publishing Best-seller Miracle Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? sold 11.3 million copies in 2003, making it one of the biggest best-sellers of all time

The Plug Fest: literary episode of Scooby Doo
Last week it was revealed how easy it is for authors to praise their own books anonymously in online reviews
· Price we pay for the freedom of expression which the internet offers us [link first seen at Quest for the fool's gold of turnover ]

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

There are some journalists who have not adjusted to pop journalism. They have not adjusted to soundbite, ratings journalism. Jeff is of that tradition. And so we thank him for his service...
A little solidarity on behalf of the truth, please. My favorite. It’s time for journalists to get mad, to unify against restrictions on the press and the flow of public information, and to openly resist – with words and actions – those who would redefine the First Amendment for their personal or political interests.

Going after Key Political Stories
If journalists demonstrated the kind of tenacity in going after key political stories that they did during that brief shining moment, well, America will have an election worthy of the world's oldest democracy, and reporters and editors alike will be able to speak proudly of the charge given to them by its oldest written constitution: to protect and defend the public's right to know its leaders -- and to choose them wisely
· Facts Fashions [ via Why Journalists Should Blog]
· Ana Menendez has the kind of face and coloring that allow her to slip easily into a number of cultures
· See Also Telegraph editor admits morale problem

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Australia ranks as one of the lowest cost business locations in the world
Leading business advisory firm KPMG today revealed that Australia is one of the least costly places to set up and do business in a study that compares business costs in 11 industrialised countries in Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe, with this being the first time Australia has participated in the study. Narrowly ahead of Australia in cost competitiveness was Canada, whereas the most expensive countries to set up and do business were Japan and Germany.
The United States, seventh in the rankings, had the greatest improvement in cost-competitiveness since 2002 of any of the countries in the study mainly due to the decline in the value of the US dollar relative to all major world currencies. By comparison, Australia holds an 8.5 percent cost-advantage over the United States.

· See Also Google: KPMG

Monday, February 23, 2004

Status of International Tax MOU: Antipodian Bohemian
And On the Second day of February 2004 AD the most recent Memorundum of Understanding between Australia and the Czech Republic was signed by the Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody and Mr Robert Szurman, Director General, Central Financial and Tax Directorate, Ministry of Finance (Ministerstvo Vnitra?) for the Czech Republic.
· Trust
· Why People Evade Taxes in the Czech and Slovak Republics: A Tale of Twins [link first seen at Major tax evaders targeted ]
· See Also 1995: MOU
· Czech Republic Profile - For Australian exporters - Austrade
The other major contributor to the comic was Michael Nugent, a peace campaigner and otherwise life-long Bohemians FC fan from O'Riordan Dublin...
· See Also Two wits to woo: There's hope only as long as we can laugh at our riches

Give me back the Berlin Wall
give me Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother:
it is murder.
Leonard Cohen, The Future, 1992

Empires and the Modern Premiers
The great scandal of Lenin was that he taught realpolitik to the lower classes and backward peoples. If the working class was ever to become a ruling class it had better start thinking like one, and for a ruling class there are no rules. There is only the struggle to get and keep power. This is not to say that the Leninists and the imperialists are without moral feelings. Individually they are for the most part perfectly normal. Their compassion for their enemies' victims is absolutely genuine. So is their outrage at their enemies' moral failings and blind spots. In the 1980s I found it very difficult to regard supporters of the Chinese Communists' consistently anti-Soviet international policies as anything but scoundrels and scabs; but they were merely applying the same criteria as I was, to a different analysis of the world; and their indignation at my callous calculations and selective sympathies was just as real. I had the same sort of arguments with Trotskyists who supported the muj.
'How can you ...?' 'How can you ...?'
Morality has very little to do with choosing sides. It can tell us that a given act is dreadful, but it can't tell us whether to say, 'This is dreadful, therefore ...' or 'This is dreadful, but ...' We still often believe that we oppose our enemies because of their crimes, and support our allies despite their crimes. I wouldn't be surprised if Margaret Thatcher was quite sincere in condemning ZAPU as a terrorist organization because it shot down a civilian airliner, and in supporting one of the mujahedin factions, despite the fact that it had deliberately blown up a civilian airliner. Sometimes our moral justifications can blunt our moral sense. Think of the incendiary bombings of Germany and Japan. Suppose they were a military necessity. If so, better to accept that what 'our side' is doing is wrong and do it anyway than to persuade ourselves it is right because it is in a just cause.

· How can you ...? How can you ...?

And Now a Word from...MEdia Dragon!:
The greatest fear for people is the oldest fear of humanity: fear of the technological monsters we can create ...

How To Network With Blogger
In 1973 a guy named Mark Granovetter wrote an article called The Strength of Weak Ties. The thing was lousy with brilliance and included the idea that you're more likely to get a job through a friend of a friend than a close friend. I think he even had pie charts backing him up. Very scientific, but it's not the seventies any more.
· The Strength of Weak Ties [Okay, kickin' it up a notch:
How To Date and Blog: a potential minefield of disaster]
The Columbia Journalism Review has a useful website for presidential campaign media junkies - those interested in how the media reports the media reporting the campaign - accessible at
Nobody's immune from the dreaded blog (Must Pay)
Democracy and the ‘Information Age’

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Jim Killaly, Deputy Commissioner, Large Business and International spoke at the Australian Taxation Summit

The Race
Los Angeles is not my kind of town. But the Angelinos are about to take a stand that ought to be applauded across the country.
That stand is to say "no" to a Wal-Mart "supercenter" that the retailing giant hopes to open in the city.
Wal-Mart, it seems to me, epitomizes the race to the bottom that has the United States by the throat as the 21st century opens.

· Corporations
· See Also The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

There are basically two kinds of censorship, but most people only notice the harmless kind that involves trying to hide naughty words or pictures once they’re already out there in plain sight. This kind of censorship is what brought down the Soviets. It just doesn’t work, and ain’t worth the trouble of trying. It just ends up as a joke.
The other sort of censorship is harder to spot and much more cruel....
Try keeping track of the stories you see featuring 'ordinary people' and you’ll discover that they’re all lies: Illiterate nobodies get rich. Terminal cancer case is spontaneously cured. Parakeet and cat become best friends. Behind all these like the breath of the grave whisper the simple, censored facts: the poor stay poor. Millions of terminal cancer patients die on schedule. The cat grabs the parakeet first chance it gets, and kills it slowly, torturing it with great pleasure.
When a culture really wants to censor the horrible truth, it takes these stories and puts them together into an 'inspirational' movie. And that movie is called Forrest Gump.

· Poet Hugh MacDiarmid famously and foolishly said he would kill a million men for one glorious lyric [link first seen at Ken McLeod]

Arafat's billions

Yasser Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion in public funds to insure his political survival, but a lot more is still unaccounted for. Jim Prince and a team of American accountants are searching Arafat's books. Given what they've already uncovered, Arafat may be rethinking his decision to allow his Finance Ministry to hire the anti-corruption team.
· Political Survival
· Businessmen handed on money illicitly siphoned from UN deals to pressure groups run by George Galloway and Tam Dalyell ]

I got a phone call with the four names and the policeman who called me made sure that I took them down just as he said. They wanted us to catch and kill our own. They wanted us to shoot 'em dead do their work for them. But I'm sorry it's not going to happen.

Sunday continues its inside look at the civil war raging in Melbourne's ganglands ... and the 22 killings that have changed the landscape of the city's underworld in the past five years.
· Mates, Enemies: Who Knows?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Classified information: Movers & Sheiks
Those privy to what really went on behind closed doors: from left, Ziggy Switkowski, Bob Mansfield, Sam Chisholm, John Fletcher, John Howard and David Gonski.
· Gonski

It is written
Capitalising on Mark Latham's flavour-of-the month status, this week Allen & Unwin signed journo Bernie Lagan to catch the essence of the man. But already weeks ahead of Lagan on the Latham trail is Tele columnist Michael Duffy, who's doing his Latham tome for Random House.
Then there's the spate of political minders churning out works on their former leaders. Alison Rogers, who was press secretary to Democrats taskmistress Natasha Stott Despoja, has a book coming out on her boss's brief time at the top.
Another political blonde whose ambitions were thwarted is former state Liberal leader Kerry Chikarovski. Chika is polishing her life story with the aid of former chief of staff Luis M. Garcia.
Since Chika's demise - she was rolled by Young Broggers in early 2002 - Garcia, a former Herald political correspondent, has joined "the dark side" going to work for corporate PR outfit Cannings, where he was made a partner earlier this year.
Entitled Chika: Lessons from Politics, the book by the dynamic duo is due out in September.
Not so sure of a release date is the autobiography of former NRMA chieftain Nick Whitlam, entitled Still Standing, which unfortunately is still standing in the shelf.

· Someone wished the cabbages turned into literary masterpieces? [See Also Some of those answers must have shaken Jones]

Some journalists may dream about asking friends and relatives to send in glowing letters to the newspaper where they work, praising their efforts ("Give that amazingly talented journalist a raise"). They might imagine writing those letters themselves. But anyone who knows how most "Letters to the Editor" columns work wouldn't risk it.
· Amazon: Weeding out phony praise
· Tentacles everywhere: whether we like it or not
· It's not the internet or pay TV but datacasting provides yet another way to get information
[ A bit of Rich Iam Rich used to mean wealth, status and power. Now they're a dime a dozen
· Bus tycoon siphoned millions: King Saga

Friday, February 20, 2004

Why Do People Pay Taxes? An Explanation Based On Loss Aversion And Overweighting of Low Probabilities, Sanjit Dhami and Ali al-Nowaihi, No 03/18 in Discussion Papers in Economics from Department of Economics, University of Leicester, December 2003.
Given actual probabilities of audit and penalty rates observed in the real world, tax evasion should be an extremely attractive gamble to an expected utility maximizer. However, in practice, one observes too much compliance relative to the predictions of expected utility. This paper considers an alternative theoretical model that is based on Kahneman and Tversky's cumulative prospect theory. The model predicts empirically plausible magnitudes of tax evasion despite low audit probabilities and penalty rates. An increase in the tax rate leads to an increase in the amount evaded- a result, which is both, intuitive, and factual, but is contrary to the prediction made by expected utility theory.
· Tax evasion behaviour, are consistent with actual tax rates

A worker must make the choice of whether to live now, pay later or invest pay now, live later.
Retirement options carrying sting in the tail. By Alison Kahler. 18/02/2004. The Australian Financial Review. Page S4. (Offline)
Australians need to check fees and commissions before committing themselves to annuities and allocated pensions. This is according to an analysis of annuities by researcher Cannex.

Confessions of a Media Maverick: Exposing Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists
Stossel began by recounting his evolution from an Emmy-award-winning consumer-affairs reporter to America's best-known skeptic of government regulation. What seems strange to him in hindsight, he explained, is not that he came to have more confidence in the market's protection of consumers than in consumer protection laws, but that this development took as long as it did:
I'd go further and say that you really don't need the government to even be the information agency, because as we should have learned from the fall of the Soviet Union, government agencies don't do things well. And if you simply eliminated the FDA, the private groups that government has crowded out would step in and do the job better, quicker, cheaper. . . . It's a fatal conceit to predict how the market will work, but maybe Underwriters Laboratories would do it or Consumer Reports. But I bet they'd do it better than the government.

· Patrick Henry didn't say, Give me absolute safety or give me death... It's supposed to be about freedom
· U.S. Iraq Policy Uncovered, by Ivan Eland
· Oval Office Club
· No More Great Presidents
· Nova Nuclear Danger
· For the President's Eyes Only

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Identifying and responding to risks of serious fraud in Australia and New Zealand:
In their Trends and Issues paper, 'Red Flags of Fraud', Grabosky and Duffield (2001) identified a number of warning signals for fraud, or anomalies. While the existence of anomalies is not always indicative of criminality, they do signify heightened risks that should be investigated further.
· Serious Fraud
· Inquiry into fraud and electronic commerce : final report Fraud publications

Recent Issues for the Conduct of Monetary Policy; speech delivered by Glenn Stevens to the Australian Business Economists and Economic Society (NSW Branch)in Sydney,
It still makes sense to think there is a neutral rate for policy which is distinct from international rates, though the actual setting of policy cannot be completely invariant to what happens abroad.
· Speech

Nothing is so beautiful and wonderful, nothing is so continually fresh and surprising, so full of sweet and perpetual ecstasy, as the good. No desert is so dreary, monotonous, and boring as evil. This is the truth about authentic good and evil. With fictional good and evil it is the other way around. Fictional good is boring and flat, while fictional evil is varied and intriguing, attractive, profound, full of charm.
Simone Weil

Powerhouse Aussie Lit
Time was that Australian literature was considered lesser than the Englis variety. But in the last 50 years, Australian literature has become a force to be reckoned with; now it is the motherland's turn to feel insecure. Australian novelists are outwriting us, they tweak the Booker prize out of our hands (Peter Carey has won it twice, Thomas Keneally once, Tim Winton has been shortlisted twice and 2003's winner, DBC Pierre, is Australian by birth). And there is a flotilla of younger Antipodean writers coming on stream.
· Double Prospect 02/04 [ courtesy of Double Dragon]

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

State's new technology gathers information to find tax avoidance
Who's going to notice? think again. The state Revenue Department is watching.
The initiative, dubbed "Discovery" by agency officials, is currently bringing in an additional $1 million in tax revenue a week. The Revenue Department has spent about $3 million over the last two years on the program, which has generated a total of $43 million in new tax revenue and $6 million in refunds. (Yes, the system identifies overpayers, too.)

· Overpayers
· Forensic Field Officers]

The PM’s pork-barrelling protectionism
John Howard is neither a free-trader nor an ‘economic rationalist’ and rational industry policy is suffering as a result
· Coping with chaos
· Is it our constitution, grounded as it was on fear and Empire dependency and the interests of the home country, that is a millstone around our neck, or is it simply that we lack the confidence and the courage to live up to the opportunities offered by this magnificent land?
· Can’t buy me love? This is the first exploration of Australian children’s attitudes to work, parental guilt and consumption...
[ via Social and economic aspects of the Australian constituents

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

An article in the Guardian about authors writing glowing anonymous reviews for their own books at This only further confirms my feeling one shouldn't evaluate books on reader reviews alone.First of all, we have Harriet Klausner who typically rates books no less than One Star Reviews :=) Just one star thrills Jozef Imrich His Star, Lucy, is a diamond in the sky
Apparently I'm only a second-rate cynic. How about you? A cynic is someone who habitually questions the motives of others, believing them to be selfish by nature.

The law of diminishing monopoly: Amazon reviewers brought to book
The five-star review on Amazon, one of the world's biggest online booksellers, was attributed only to 'a reader from Chicago'.
· Stars [link first seen at ]
· Another long look at life in the age of Google.

Shorter Washington Post editorial page
Senate Democrats are bad people who have strategies and constituencies and stuff, but the Republicans shouldnt have stolen a really lot of their files like that (just a few would have been OK), although the people the bad thief lawyer guy worked for clearly knew nothing about it at the time and really the Republicans are the heroes of this story for not stonewalling after they were publicly busted by the Sergeant at Arms.
[ via Thief Memo]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

A Tax Office review is hunting for gaps between declared income and the prices paid for antiques and fine art. Peter Fish reports. Bought or sold any art work lately? If so you could be in for a shock.
Sydney Morning Herald 14/02/2004 (hard copy only)

Fine That Dare Not Speed Its Name
Police gave a record $216,900 speeding ticket to a millionaire under a system in which traffic fines are linked to an offender's income. The Iltalehti tabloid reported that millionaire Jussi Salonoja zoomed through the city center last weekend in a 25 mph zone and police handed him a ticket of $216,900. It didn't say what his speed was...
· Finnish Police Give Record Speeding Fine [link first seen at Skoda: Harm]
· The US legislature is spending a great deal of time scrutinizing the tax revenues and the state budget proposals.

In an interview with the businessman sought after for his views on the economy, he stressed that democracy doesn't mean very much, in real terms, if "the bottom group," meaning the most impoverished, is hungry...
· Economic freedom first, then political freedom
· Charlie Thompson saw a big mess and decided to clean it up
· 2003 Comparative Tax Study
· The British Dream: Why I am an Angry Young Man

NAO to investigate whisky fraud claims, Accountancy Age, 6 February 2004.
The National Audit Office is to take a close look at whisky fraud after the chancellor said the Treasury misses out on duty on one in every six bottles.

Access Denied
Chris Davis and Matthew Doig of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune joined colleagues from 29 other Florida newspapers to test the availability of public records in 62 of the state's 67 counties. The results: "Overall, 57 percent of the agencies audited complied with the public records law. The rest made unlawful demands or simply refused to turn over the records. Public officials lied to, harassed and even threatened volunteers who were using a law designed to give citizens the power to watch over their government. In six counties, volunteers were erroneously told that the documents they wanted didn't exist. One volunteer was almost arrested." The best results came from city managers, while county administrators handed over e-mail records only half the time. The stories are accompanied by an explainer about how the audit was done and a database of journals kept by reporters.
· Databases [ via Scoop ]
· Constituents Customers

Secrets and Spies
Two stories of emigration to Australia from behind the Iron Curtain have highlighted a diverse shortlist for this year's National Biography Award.
· Tales of the dark side vie for award

Saturday, February 14, 2004

My grand philosophical conclusion at the end of the day is that humanity does not divide into the rich and the poor, the privileged and the unprivileged, the clever and the stupid, the lucky and the unlucky or even into the happy and the unhappy. It divides into the nasty and the nice. Nasty people are humourless, bitter, self-pitying, resentful and mean. They are also, of course, invariably miserable. Saints may worry about them and even try to turn their sour natures, but those who do not aspire to saintliness are best advised to avoid them whenever possible, and give their aggression a good run for its money whenever it becomes unavoidable.
Auberon Waugh, Will This Do?

How CityRail became Labor's multibillion-dollar fiasco
Daniel Pearson took four hours and 40 minutes to get from his work at Chatswood to his home at Cronulla. He spent 45 minutes stuck in a train 500 metres from Chatswood station and another 30 minutes outside Artamon station. Feeling like a sheep on the Cormo Express, he quit the train at St Leonards and paid $15 for a taxi to the city, where he waited another 40 minutes at Martin Place.
· Mapping Gassish Tangara: Gas

Comrades in high places
China's new rich are starting to invest in Australian political parties as well as real estate. Hamish McDonald meets one of the Labor Party's biggest donors in Shanghai.
· Show Shanghallers

Cranky Frank Sartor got away with his outbursts of bad temper when he was mayor. But will they harm his future as a NSW Government minister? [See Also Frankly ]

Friday, February 13, 2004

Ireland Unveils 2004 Finance Bill With Business-Friendly Tax Breaks, Tax Analysts, 6 February 2004.
Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy on 4 February unveiled Ireland's 2004 finance bill, introducing new business-friendly tax credits and most of the 2004 budget's tax proposals. One of the bill's two tax credits would give a credit to companies for incremental research and development spending, and the other would exempt Irish resident companies from capital gains taxes on their disposed-of shareholdings in subsidiaries, whether they are foreign or domestic.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

· In the first week of February 2004 Scoop is peppered with colourful investigative reports

Part IVA: twenty-two years a state of maturity?
In 1981, the anti-avoidance section Part IVA was put into the Income Tax Assessment Act (ITAA) 1936. Among the issues raised by Part IVA are tax benefit cancellations, compensating adjustments and the dominant purpose test. Important cases which have had ramifications for Part IVA include Spotless (1996) CLR 404 at 424, Vincent 2002 ATC 4742, Mochkin 2003 ATC 4272 at 4289-4290, Stokes 97 ATC 4001 at 4008-9 and Peabody 93 ATC 4104 at 4113. Part IV continues to provide robust judgments and, after more than 20 years on the statute books, is less open to misinterpretation
Part II Taxation in Australia --- Page:372-381. : 01-Feb-2004

Identifying and responding to risks of serious fraud in Australia and New Zealand, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice no. 270, Australian Institute of Criminology.
In their Trends and Issues paper, 'Red Flags of Fraud', Grabosky and Duffield (2001) identified a number of warning signals for fraud, or anomalies.
· Fraud PDF file

Protecting Classified and Security Sensitive Information, Discussion Paper 67, Australian Law Reform Commission, 5 February 2004.
New laws providing courts with more sophisticated strategies to protect classified and security sensitive information during espionage and terrorism trials are being considered by Australian law reformers. The proposals are set out in a Discussion Paper, Protecting Classified and Security Sensitive Information (DP 67), released by the ALRC for public comment.
· The closing date for submissions in response to this DP is 12 March 2004 PDF file

Parliamentary promises
Who is Dorothy Dix, and why does Mark Latham want to kill her?
· I'll make Speaker truly independent: Latham [See Also Admirable bid to nix the dixer ]

Monday, February 09, 2004

We stood for the dignity of the working man
We were, of course, of the left. We were socialist. We stood for the dignity of the working man. We stood for the dignity of distress. We stood for the dignity of our island, the dignity of our indignity. Borrowed phrases! Left-wing, right-wing: did it matter? Did we believe in the abolition of private property? Was it relevant to the violation which was our subject? We spoke as honest men. But we used borrowed phrases which were part of the escape from thought, from that reality we wanted people to see but could ourselves now scarcely face. We enthroned indignity and distress. We went no further.
I am not sure that the wild men of our party did not speak more honestly than we did. They promised to abolish poverty in twelve months. They promised to abolish bicycle licences. They promised to discipline the police. They promised intermarriage. They promised farmers higher prices for sugar and copra and cocoa. They promised to renegotiate the bauxite royalties and to nationalize every foreign-owned estate. They promised to kick the whites into the sea and send the Asiatics back to Asia. They promised; they promised; and they generated the frenzy of the street-corner preacher who thrills his hearers with a vision of the unattainable rich world going up in a ball of fire. We disapproved, of course. But what could we do?"
V.S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men

· Troppoarmadillo [link first seen at An absence of months and Ken Parish still can't tell the difference between left and right, or perhaps simply prefers not to bother: Roadtosurfdom ]

Chech Tax
· EU tax Reforms softened: Fearing voter backlash, state offers perks to ease tax blow

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Nothing too taxing
The strategy To be tax-smart about my investments.
How do I do that? It doesn't pay to be too clever when it comes to tax. History is rife with cases of people who entered into investments because they thought they could save on their tax bill, but who ended up going backwards. However, different investments are taxed in different ways, and using this to your advantage can help you build your wealth.
Although it is not always a good idea to pursue tax benefits as a prime objective, some investments are more tax effective than others. For example, money invested in property or shares will have any gains taxed at a lower rate than money earned through interest in a bank account. Holding investments for more than a year reduces capital gains tax. Income from fully-franked dividends offer tax advantages to anyone not in the top tax bracket. However, it should be remembered that investments in shares or property carry significant risk.

· Investments

U.K. lawmakers urge crackdown on tax fraud
The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) in the UK has issued a report on tax fraud. The report highlights the extent of the black market in the UK. Thirty million British taxpayers paid a total of Stg214bn in direct tax and national insurance during the 2001-02 financial year. The Inland Revenue spent a total of Stg428m on non-compliance activities during the year, for a yield-to-cost ratio of 8.3 to 1. The Special Compliance Office investigates about 800 fraud and avoidance cases a year. It recovered 12 times its cost in 2001-02. The PAC's report calls for greater cooperation between Customs & Excise and the Department of Work & Pensions
Source: Tax Notes International --- Page:229-232. : 19-Jan-2004

Small esoteric note that probably isn't worth reading:
The thing that tears people apart is money. The reason they are unhappy is money. The boss is so important in people's lives. He's more important than your spouse because he's the one who provides your PayCzech. Compared to that, love is just about procreation... How can you complain about things when you know that the life span in Botswana is 32 years old? Life can be really hard, and almost anyone's life in America is pretty easy.

The End of Happy Endings: Cold Reality
Happy endings are presumed to belong to the realm of fantasy. In real life, after all, even a thumping electoral victory is generally more a first act than a last; what ensues, much too often, is disappointment, broken promises and even murmurs of a recall. When the believer, in any faith, tells us that the reward for bloody sacrifice is eternal joy, the nonbeliever is often tempted to think that the believer is merely trying to justify the ways of God to man. On earth at least, the end of life is death.
America, though, is the spiritual home of new beginnings, which may be why it has always had a soft spot, a special gift, for happy endings. We speak brightly of ''closure,'' as if the most difficult things in life could be wrapped up as neatly as a gift package; we speak of people ''passing on,'' as if the end of life were just a passing phase. America, in fact, could almost be defined as the place that chose not to root itself in the tragic cycles of the Greeks and others from the Old World (even Shakespeare, after all, in his early comedy Love's Labour's Lost, ensures that we leave the theater with the memory of a sudden death uppermost in our minds, and the central courting couples failing to pair off as comic convention decrees).

· Love's Labour's Lost [Cool Exile Cold River]

Friday, February 06, 2004

The ATO has advised that it is making a number of important changes to its digital certificate policy and operations to give business taxpayers more flexibility in how they manage their certificates. These changes prepare for the introduction of the ATO's new Business Portal in March 2004, and the Online Access Manager (OAM) later this year. The new Business Portal will allow a business to go online and access its account and registration details, request transfers and refunds of credit amounts, lodge activity statements and view previously lodged activity statements. To prepare for the new Portal and OAM, ATO has introduced 2 types of ATO digital certificates to provide different levels of access to information - primary certificates and secondary certificates.
· New Business Portal [ See Also Digital certificates ]
The Australian and American senates: a comparison
Notwithstanding the differences, the Australian and American Senates are comparable in being among the very strongest upper houses in the world, and in demonstrating the value of bicameralism in democratic governance. US political scientist Stanley Bach analyses the major differences between the Australian and US upper houses.
· Upper Houses (PDF file) [ via APO ]
· Australia–US Free Trade Agreement: overview of potential legal issues (PDF file)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

After more than three years of negotiations, Switzerland has agreed to change some tax practices that the OECD considers harmful, Swiss and OECD officials said after a meeting in Paris.
Switzerland has agreed to change its service and holding company tax regimes, which the OECD listed as "potentially harmful" in a 2000 report.

Australia's superannuation system is in need of reform, according to survey results from Hawker Britton and UMR Research. Their joint survey indicates that 57% of Australians believe that they are being "ripped off" by their super fund, and that 42% do not understand how super works.
In AUSTRIA superannuation funds provide long term leases to families at a reasonable prices. As a result, whether you own or rent in Austria is not such a big deal. In Australia if you rent you are forever the one at the end of the food chain.
Economists suggest that Australian fund managers are harming the economy by investing funds overseas. Figures estimate that $A94bn out of a total superannuation pool of $A534bn is being invested outside Australia.
· Super Stealing the Show

Although I wrote a book on the subject, I never cease to be amazed at how predictably certain political views lead to others. If, say, you're a pro-growth free-market economist who is creepily nostalgic for the good old days of Jim Crow, you will inevitably abandon your free market ideas in favor of economic nationalism and protectionist trade policy, using half-baked arguments that amount to "but they're foreigners." And, just as predictably, you will be embraced--at least temporarily--by supposed liberals, who will happily ignore your less savory views in exchange for the cover of a conservative ally in favor of protectionism.
· Even Pat Buchanan had a brief honeymoon with the left when he started bashing corporations and international trade [link first seen at Corante ]
· Our fiscal gap is too great to grow our way out of this problem: David Walker, the Comptroller General and head of Congress's nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Givers and Takers
Each of the Democratic candidates vying to replace George W. Bush has a serious electability problem. The problem has nothing to do with their biographies or temperaments — and everything to do with a significant, but unnoticed, structural divide in American presidential politics.
· Pointing out some underrecognized facts about Federal tax burden and Federal spending [ See Also Election boxes easy to mess with: In Annapolis, tales of trickery, vote rigging ]
· Oil, OIl, OIL
[link first seen at The Company They Kept (US)]
Mr. Juppé, 58, one of Mr. Chirac's closest confidants, was disqualified from public office for 10 years

Monday, February 02, 2004

Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag
A series of shocking personal testimonies is now shedding light on Camp 22 - one of the country's most horrific secrets ...
The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.

· CAMP 22

Justice at Risk
Manny Garcia and Jason Grotto of the Miami Herald have a four-part series on the judicial practice of setting aside felony convictions in Florida.
· Justice Withheld
· Justice accused of plagiarizing published work of colleagues

After the brilliant War (six) series, on the first Day of February 2004 AD Thomas Friedman has a column that kisses everything and makes it well. If you read only one column this election year, read his Budget of Mass Destruction...

Budgets of Mass Destruction
It should be clear to all by now that what we have in the Bush team is a faith-based administration. It launched a faith-based war in Iraq, on the basis of faith-based intelligence, with a faith-based plan for Iraqi reconstruction, supported by faith-based tax cuts to generate faith-based revenues. This group believes that what matters in politics and economics are conviction and will — not facts, social science or history.
· Bush

Daniel Weintraub looks at California tax data and finds that the state's in fiscal trouble because rich people aren't making enough money:
Because California's skewed income distribution, combined with progressive tax rates, means that the people at the very top of the income heap pay a very high percentage of the personal income tax collected in this state.
Their extraordinary, onetime income surge at the end of the last century provided most of the new tax revenue that legislators and former Gov. Gray Davis used to raise teacher salaries, increase welfare benefits and expand eligibility to state-provided health care. But the decline that followed also accounted for most of the revenue drop that contributed to the state's fiscal crisis. And as of the most recent tax year, they hadn't hit bottom yet.
The tax-collection data should provide an important reality check on Democrats who've been responding to Arnold's budget cuts with calls for higher taxes on the richest Californians. Soaking the rich is already the state's approach to taxation, and it's one reason the budget is such a mess.
Concludes Weintraub: Raising tax rates on this small group of highly successful Californians will undoubtedly be part of the mix of deficit-closing policy proposals debated in the Capitol this year. But the tax return data suggest that a more fruitful and more stable approach to balancing the budget over the long term would be to somehow figure out how to make more Californians wealthy, and keep them that way.

· Taxes

Evidence that extreme partisanship didn't begin with blogs or 24/7 cable news:
Those who either attack or defend a minister in such a government as ours, where the utmost liberty is allowed, always carry matters to an extreme, and exaggerate his merit or demerit with regard to the public. His enemies are sure to charge him with the greatest enormities, both in domestic and foreign management; and there is no meanness or crime, of which, in their account, he is not capable. Unnecessary wars, scandalous treaties, profusion of public treasure, oppressive taxes, every kind of mal-administration is ascribed to him. To aggravate the charge, his pernicious conduct, it is said, will extend its baleful influence even to posterity, by undermining the best constitution in the world, and disordering that wise system of laws, institutions, and customs, by which our ancestors, during so many centuries, have been so happily governed. He is not only a wicked minister in himself, but has removed every security provided against wicked ministers for the future. [ via NEVER CHANGE ]
Although I wrote a book on the subject, I never cease to be amazed at how predictably certain political views lead to others. If, say, you're a pro-growth free-market economist who is creepily nostalgic for the good old days of Jim Crow, you will inevitably abandon your free market ideas in favor of economic nationalism and protectionist trade policy, using half-baked arguments that amount to "but they're foreigners." And, just as predictably, you will be embraced--at least temporarily--by supposed liberals, who will happily ignore your less savory views in exchange for the cover of a conservative ally in favor of protectionism.
· Even Pat Buchanan had a brief honeymoon with the left when he started bashing corporations and international trade [link first seen at Corante ]

The Coming Search Wars
AT the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week, Microsoft, the software heavyweight, and Google, the scrappy Internet search company, eyed each other like wary prizefighters entering the ring.

· I Dream, Therefore I Am: Google is My Dream Engine

Sunday, February 01, 2004

As another car bomb rips through Iraqi city, the world security sinks to a new low with the latest nuclear exercise. Superpowers are showing that they have no intention of going quietly about showing off their amunitions

Secret Russian weapons: Amerikan - Russian Honeymoon has Soured
The Russian armed forces are about to stage a major transition-to-war exercise simulating a nuclear conflict right up and including test launching several missiles and sending Tu-160 and Tu-22 bombers out on simulated mission profiles over the Arctic.
· Radiant Russia's perceived attempts to assert its authority over ex-Soviet neighbors [ via Google ]
· Worst flu epidemic
· Lobbyist Barrel: Disturbing fact about the Kerry campaign
· Ex-BBC head accuses government of bullying

Spending to Save
Well, the community centers that will be built as a result of Joan Kroc will not do social services like feeding or housing. Rather, they are for educational and recreational activities, for character building. We provide activities that relate to the holistic person -- body, mind, soul and spirit.
· Feeding Souls