Sunday, May 30, 2004

Principal Executive Officers (PEOs)

Invisible Hands & Markets: Corporate Amerika
In corporate boardrooms across America, they're warning that the sky is falling — again. Shareholders have heard this before, and it has usually been about money: companies resisted new rules to change how they account for stock options, for example, or how they value certain complex investments in corporate financial reports. And when the Securities and Exchange Commission wanted to restrict the types of consulting work an accounting firm could perform for an audit client, the cry was familiar.
· Let the Little Guy in the Boardroom [link first seen at Lost in America ]
· See Also Why we should get rid of stop signs and red lights and let cars, bikes and people mingle together
· See Also Europe's Market Solidarity With Ukraine
· See Also Experience of living and working in the USA
· See Also Albert Einstein's essay Why Socialism?
· See Also How to lift the working poor
· See Also Real World, just like college, is a series of choices to be made with imperfect information

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Rising Tide Till Debt Do Us Part

Invisible Hands & Markets: Losing Moral Compass: Socialism meets free markets?
Many people believe the collapse of the Soviet Union 12 years ago proves that free market capitalism is the only viable socio-economic model for modern countries to follow. But David Schweickart, the speaker at the Big Problems lecture, “After Capitalism: How about Democracy?” would disagree that the fall of the Soviet Union means the end of socialism.
Schweickart, a professor of philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago, described to students and faculty on Monday how alternatives to free-market enterprise could incorporate many aspects of socialism while still being capitalist. The lecture, part of the Big Problems Curriculum series hosted by the New Collegiate Division, incorporated many of the ideas in his book, After Capitalism, which posits a coherent vision of an alternative to globalizing capitalism that Schweickart termed “economic democracy.”

· After Capitalism: How about Democracy? [ Times like this, It seems like we could use a few more rational anarchists ][ via Casual employment: trends and characteristics (PDF)]
· See Also The ATO has made it abundantly clear that it is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to tax evasion
· See Also The Letter D We Had To Have: Housing boom may finally be coming to an end
· See Also Can we apply economic theory to suicide bombers? Yes (PDF) [From the Philippines a lack of economic opportunities fuels exodus of brightest prospects ]

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

When Advocates Become Regulators

Invisible Hands & Markets: Egalitarianism has been great lie of past two centuries
HISTORY is the biography of mankind. So it is unsurprising that such an ambitious project should attract so many aspiring authors. As is the way with biography, there are as many varied interpretations of the subject as there are students. We live in an era when history has expanded in its potential scope, literally, to cosmic dimensions; when there is unprecedented amateur interest in the subject; and when, paradoxically, it is being downgraded in schools and academe, as well as being manipulated for political purposes.
· The end of history was proclaimed 12 years ago; but somehow it trundles on [link first seen at Amerikan Aristokracy: Call it the revenge of the rentier class ]
· See Also The Political Stock Market
· See Also Impact of the 2004 federal budget tax changes

Monday, May 24, 2004

Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it.

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Egalitarian spirit
The long-time mantra that Liberalism is all about self-interest while Labor is all about "social interdependency" and "egalitarianism" is one of those fairytales that doubtless produces that "warm-inner glow" that helps to power the political commitment of the left but contributes little to understanding either the Howard Government or the recent budget - or politics in general for that matter.
· Why long-time mantra that classical liberalism is all about self-interest is a fairytale?
· The silenced minority: European multicultural society that was shattered
· See Also Rakat Villa: Survivors describe wedding massacre as generals refuse to apologise
· See Also Millions of People Worldwide on the Move
· See Also Economic migrants face discrimination
· See Also Thinking Freedom

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Google: Dirty business of war profiteering gets dirtier

Invisible Hands & Markets: Corruption stench as company loses Iraq contract
One of Australia's largest postwar contracts in Iraq has collapsed, with the partners embroiled in a multi-million-dollar legal battle and allegations of corruption in the awarding of contracts by a leading Pentagon supplier.
Morris Corporation, a Queensland catering company that has delivered meals to the armed forces in hot-spots from Somalia to Cambodia, was dumped last year by the giant US military contractor Halliburton, losing a $100 million contract to supply meals to US troops in Iraq.

· Corruption stench as company loses Iraq contract [link first seen at Halliburton: Hell's kitchen]
· See Also Goodbye to the over-40 hour working week
· See Also A self-sufficient hero says to heck with all those nitpicky, clock-punching bureaucrats
· See Also Ben Stein on the tale of the toaster, or how trade deficits are good (doc file)
· See Also Contrabassist and the CEO: Moral Judgment and Collective Identity

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The good are always beautiful and the evil always misshapen and ugly... if success is a sign of heavenly favor, doesn’t big brother suggests that heaven favors citizens in birthday suits?

Invisible Hands & Markets: Why I’m not rich
This is one of those rude questions that is offensive because it contains so many other ugly and hidden questions. Social scientists call those hidden questions a subtext. The name isn’t important, but since I’m an underemployed historian, I’ll use subtext because these words are about all I have to show for my education.
The three most obvious subtexts to if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?

· Bouncing Czechs & Nicknames [More at One-Third of US Children Live in Poverty; May 04]
· See Also Murdoch's war on truth: it's NOT about oil
· See Also James Hardie's Dutch blues
· See Also How to be your own invisible career coach
· See Also Ground-down members of the underclass who lack the class consciousness for revolt.: Most Humanities PhDs go to school for 7 years and end up on food stamps

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

And Julian Baggini on how That's a hypothetical question” has become a favored tool of evasion for politicians the world over

Strong Leaders Encourage Dissent The Buck Stops … Where? - Stop blaming your henchmen
Fred Kaplan in Slate focuses on the aspect of the White House culpability story that is being drowned out by the disgusting spectacles of Abu Ghraib and Nick Berg: the deliberate negligence of Zarqawi :It's a tossup which is more disturbing: a president who passes up the chance to kill a top-level enemy in the war on terrorism for the sake of pursuing a reckless diversion in Iraq?
· Collective Sigh: Reckless or Intentional Disregard? [link first seen at ]
· See Also Double standards with respect to the Geneva Convention; On my name day, March 19, 2004, President Bush asked: Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?
· See Also The Gray Zone... Sy Hersh: (who also uncovered the My Lai massacre)
· See Also The government finds a new way to nail old tax evaders

The deluge of books about Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler apparently knows no end...
· See Also Jean Bethke Elshtain on why Hitler and the Nazis continue to fascinate

What aren't we frightened enough about now?

Invisible Hands & Markets: Scarier Than Protectionism
This prosperity is vital to all of us. It will spur growth here. It will weaken fundamentalism elsewhere. It is the product of the laws that Adam Smith taught us. It is the consequence of the lessons that America has been teaching the world for generations - that free markets free people.
Yet we call this great good bad. We amplify anxiety through code words like outsourcing, and our rhetoric invites policies that would return this nation to the darkest days of the Depression

· Lawrence Lessig:
· See Also Good advertising doesn't cure all problems, but it's a really good indicator of whether the people involved actually care about what they do
· See Also Building Economist Reviews: mix of murder and maths
· See Also If I wear my watch on my left wrist, I need not be conscious that I am accepting a tradition: Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) was born in surreal Vienna [courtesy of My Surreal Vienna ]
· See Also The government finds a new way to nail old tax evaders
· See Also Australia: Second big firm hit in tax sweep
· See Also Taxman goes after small end of town

Monday, May 17, 2004

States name, shame tax scofflaws online,
To those for whom civic duty alone is not enough motivation to pay taxes, states are rolling out a new weapon: shame. A growing number of states are hoping to humiliate delinquent taxpayers by putting their names online. Used in at least 13 states, with zingy names like CyberShame and DelinqNet, the Web sites are giving state tax collectors a surprisingly useful tool in gathering old taxes.
· We're trying to shame people [ courtesy of Kristen Wyatt, 27 April 2004 ]
· See Also CyberShame
· See Also Debtor's Corner

Lawyers, accountants and other professionals
operating in partnership structures face turmoil after partners from leading tax firm KPMG were hit with a claim for up to $100 million in unpaid taxes and penalties for allegedly breaching Part IVA anti-avoidance tax laws.

Alex Mitchell: Tax office favours big end of town, says top ATO investigator
A senior tax inspector has accused the Australian Taxation Office of bias by treating the big end of town leniently while handing out rough justice to ordinary taxpayers.
Bob Fitton, one of the ATO's top investigators, offered an apology to the thousands of salaried workers he has audited during his 35 years in the job.
At a farewell speech to more than 200 colleagues in Sydney, Mr Fitton said: "Finally, I would like to apologise to all of those salary and wage earners who I have had dealings with.
"I do not think the ATO treats you fairly and equitably compared with the big end of town . . .
"Every day we prosecute small taxpayers for not lodging or whatever. But in the last five years I have not seen any prosecutions of the big end of town."
Mr Ben Morris, another retired ATO inspector who attended the farewell, backed Mr Fitton's claims of bias saying: "It is far easier for the tax office to go after small taxpayers than those at the top who can marshall expensive lawyers and accountants to protect them.
"There are two different standards at the ATO - one for the top end and another for the bottom end . . ."
Mr Fitton and Mr Morris were members of a Chatswood-based audit unit which won notoriety in the 1980s for zealously pursuing tax cheats when the ATO commissioner was Trevor Boucher.
Their unit launched high-profile prosecutions against two prominent politicians, Liberal MPs Terry Metherell and Phillip Smiles, and subsequently became the subject of a Senate inquiry into the unit's disbandment.
· Mr Fitton and Mr Morris
· See Also Cashed-up taxman launches blitz: Collections from tax audits have tripled from $1 billion in 2002-03 to $3.3 billion this financial year

The story of Abdurahman Khadr and his journey from Osama bin Laden to the CIA provides insight into Al Qaeda, US intelligence and the hidden world inside Guantanamo Bay. “Al Qaeda Family” @ 8.30 pm Monday 17 May ABC TV

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Marco Polos: Microsoft-Sponsored Trips
Katherine M. Skiba and Jeff Nelson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviewed congressional travel records to find that Microsoft and affiliated firms have lavished $180,429 on members of Congress, their spouses and aides in the 16 months ending in April, the records show. Most trips were to Microsoft headquarters, records show. Some trips involved Microsoft product launches, while seven spouses accompanied lawmakers on trips since January 2003. Rep. H. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, along with his wife and staff, accepted trips worth $72,405.
· Pacific Islanders & Parliamentary Clerks [ via Scoop]
· See Also Havel says the obvious: Europe is lacking politicians capable of implementing their visions -- politicians who can stick to their beliefs despite fickle public opinion
· See Also Bill Clinton is back: The final sentence of his memoirs completed... & this time Clinton is getting personal about Bush
· See Also Berg Case Gets Even More Bizarre
· See Also Devika Hovell: Legal obligation or not, we must do more than express disgust
· See Also The Rule of Law and the Rules of War: Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales says the United States is bound to observe the rules of war in the Geneva Conventions
· See Also Where is the outcry over these accounts of physical and mental harm in our detention camps?
· See Also Terrorism and International Law: A Catholic Perspective
· See Also Catholically Courageous Carr Casting the First Stone: Clubs Politics to Turn Extremely Personal [ Club Called Panthers ]

Sunday, May 16, 2004

According to Reuters, BMW drivers are more likely to lie to magazine surveys, and Porsche drivers really are trying to compensate for something.

Tracking Policies & Investigative Stories: The Politics of Petroleum
Ken Silverstein of the Los Angeles Times has a series on oil companies’ efforts in Kazakhstan and Angola, based on internal company documents and other records. In the first piece, Silverstein writes that a group of influential Americans, including a former Secretary of State and the former executive director of the Democratic National Committee, pressed for U.S. support of the authoritarian Kazakh government. The paper found dozens of former government officials “who have worked for the oil industry or for foreign governments with extensive energy reserves - and, almost invariably, poor human rights records.” The second story, on Angola, details how oil firms “have won favor with the Dos Santos regime by steering contracts to Angolan insiders and by giving millions of dollars to foundations controlled by the ruling family.”
· Other stories are forthcoming [link first seen at Scoop ]
· See Also Utility authorities fail to disclose and notify residents of toxic contamination of their drinking water
· See Also EU Council Plans to Scrap Parliamentary Vote without Discussion
· See Also Australia’s rules on political lobbying are loose and inadequate, according to Allan Fels
· See Also A political party whose predecessor, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, enforced censorship, says without a hint of irony that its draft law was inspired by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
· See Also Municipal corruption has been a persistent problem since democracy dawned in the country in 1989
· See Also Same as the Old Boss: Agbar Technologies, the company that won the right to succeed Envirotest

Saturday, May 15, 2004

As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
It's too bad Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stopped reading newspapers because he missed great journalism battle this week. Every day, the New York Times and the Washington Post tried to break the better story. It amounted to the journalistic equivalent of the Olympics...What makes Rummy run?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Kurt Vonnegut: Cold (River) Turkey
Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.
But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces.

· They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas [ Follow the link here It's not exactly every day that the Pentagon warns military personnel to stay away from Fox News]
· See Also We need a bigger Army. We got a bigger budget - but the money is going to CEOs, not to G.I. Joe [Link Poached from I'm probably the last person on earth to link this ]
· See Also Berg Beheading: Busy lulling themselves to sleep in their elitist coccoon of arrogance [Czech Out INDC Journal Interviews the Instapundit
· See Also Gandhi triumphs in India election
· See Also 1st Internet President Roh Returned to Power by the Constitutional Court in South Koreas

The risk of disliking a speaker is one many will take. Writers are popular speakers. Some challenge. Some reinforce. Some inspire. Some deflate. Some tap into dreams. Some sketch nightmares. Some illuminate paths, or warn of ways best not taken. Some explain feelings held, but not yet examined. Some examine feelings not widely held. All have something to say to someone, somewhere. This coming week is a chance for Sydney to hear them say it aloud.
William Faulkner nailed the self-absorption often shown by writers when he wrote: If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: I'm Not Making this Up
David Sedaris writes stories of personal disclosure as funny as they are strange. Competitive storytelling was a skill David Sedaris learned in a household of six children. Just as in the Imrich Familia, everyone wanted mother's attention...
When you write at home it doesn't really qualify as work. It doesn't engage you with the world. The days are much better if you do something you don't want to do.

· Sedaris will read from his work at the Sydney Writers' Festival, at 8.30pm on May 21 [link digged up after reading Editorial II Sydney Writers' Festival: A Week of Words]
· See Also Tough world, tiny market for NZ books
· See Also Are Big Publishers Bribing Bookstores For Better Shelf Placement? Sweetener trips for the retail chains
· See Also How to write your doctoral thesis: Loved ones will forgive you, since they will be deluded into believing that after the process is complete, you will have a sense of achievement, and more earning potential. They are wrong...
· See Also Getting behind my fesh and blood meme: I have a coat that has six arms. I Inherited this coat from Gregor Samsa

Friday, May 14, 2004

It really gets me when the critics say I haven't done enough for the economy. Look what I've done for the book publishing industry.
-President George Bush at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
-George Orwell

Invisible Hands & Markets: The Meritocracy Myth
But we're not failures. In a lot of ways, we're the ones who keep things humming by doing the jobs that have to be done but nobody else wants to do. We keep your office clean and cook and serve your food, we stock the shelves so you'll have things to buy when you go to the store (think a manager's going to lower himself to do that every day?), we plow your streets and rake your leaves and take care of you when you're sick, we teach your kids and watch them when you're at work and empty your septic tank and pick your vegetables and staple your recliner so you won't fall through it when you sit down.
· We're a lot more important than you think. [link first seen at FromTheTrenches ]
· See Also The Neoconomists of Revolution: elbowing each other
· For Hollywood, news biz is turning into showbiz: Doubts whether viewers would buy the idea of journalists as noble knights tilting at the windmills of corruption and social inequality... one reason the emphasis now is on journalism as comedy
· See Also Frogtown Crime
· See Also How the slot machine was remade, and how it's remaking America
· See Also Visible Officials Hold Fake Degrees

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Weak Dollar Makes for Strong Amazon, As Intl. Sales Drive Profit and Sales Growth
Amazon reported sales of $1.53 billion for their first quarter, up 41 percent from a year ago, and net income of $111 million, buoyed considerably by the weak dollar and growing international sales. (North America comprised $847 million of sales.)

Invisible Hands & Markets: THE CHAIN OF NUMBERS: The mother of all spending sprees
Families will win enormous tax, superannuation and maternity benefits, delivering up to $117 a week in the biggest-spending budget ever, which the Treasurer, Peter Costello, hopes will encourage them to have more children.
"If you can have children it's a good thing to do - you should have one for the father, one for the mother and one for the country, if you want to fix the ageing demographic," Mr Costello said last night.

· The centrepiece of the budget is John Howard's long-awaited "barbecue stopper" work and family measures [Link Poached from THE BUDGET AND YOU: Economic reality mother of reinvention ]
· See Also Taxes only high by our low standards? [Link Poached from JohnQuiggin]
· See Also Ken Parish: Taxing times...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Will this be Peter Costello's last budget?
If parents run the risk of being thrown out of work, they cant have confidence. If homebuyers have to pay double digit interest rates they cant feel secure. We want to deliver security for families so they can plan for the future. And a weak economy wont do it. A weak economy wont pay for the hospitals, the schools and the roads that we all want. And it wont assist our defence and national security effort.
· See Also For the seventh time since 1997 it will be in surplus [link first seen at Google Budget]

Taxation mess needs clean-up. 10/05/2004. The Australian Financial Review. Page 62.
Australia's taxation system is a mess, and it should be reformed. Many governments, for over 30 years, have talked about this but done nothing. They have added more taxes and more concessions, so that the taxation system is now a labyrinth. The top tax rate cuts in too early, meaning that middle class people pay the same tax rate as very wealthy people. The tax scales rise too steeply, leading to poverty traps for those on very low incomes. A huge industry has sprung up, devoted to helping people reduce their personal income tax. This is why the system must be reformed. The family benefits scheme and the taxation system both work to exacerbate the poverty traps, so that the incentive to work is removed. The Australian Government should think long-term for a change and fix this terrible system. Editorial. (reg. req. no link)

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Interest rate boost before election
The Bush administration has been alerted that Chairman Alan Greenspan will guide the Federal Reserve Board to a small interest rate boost before the presidential election, and President Bush is reported to be satisfied.
· US Elections [Robert Novak]
· Blair defends human rights record: China
· See Also Taxing times as Latham considers his reply
· See Also Springing the money trap; The great divide: $117 to zilch

Monday, May 10, 2004

Acknowledgements: To avoid any ongoing confusion among readers of "How Appealing," there are some facts that I must acknowledge but that I will continue to refuse to allow to get in the way of a "good (irony)."

Invisible Hands & Markets: How Costello primed his giveaway budget
It's the greatest frustration faced by a Treasurer: knowing he's sitting on a huge budget surplus in the old financial year, while he struggles desperately to meet the PM's many demands and still achieve a nominal surplus in the new financial year.
· The public never understands - because not even the press gallery understands [link first seen at RGittins]
· See Also It's Not Google. It's That Other Big I.P.O:
· See Also One of the least-reported stories in town is that cleaning up pollution is good for the economy
· See Also A British father who has sold his 15-year-old daughter for $38,000 to pay off his gambling debts is being investigated by police.

Repeating History Classes: World Banking: The Scorecard on Globalization 19802-2000: Twenty Years of Diminished Progress
NY Times discusses James Wolfensohn's tenure as president of the World Bank. At one point it refers to the progress that has been made in reducing illiteracy and poverty over the last 20 years. Typically, poverty and illiteracy would be expected to fall through time, as technology improves and the world becomes wealthier. The more important question is the rate at which poverty and illiteracy decline. By this measure, the last two decades have been a relatively bad period, with the vast majority of the countries in the world experiencing less progress in the period from 1980 to 2000
· Ultimately, I think Jim has failed to transform the bank into an organ that can truly help poor people [link first seen at History of Orwellian statements by high officials ]
· See Also A World Bank Mission To Bring Help to the Poor

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Don Boudreaux writes about why even economists shouldn't (only) be in charge of the world's money

Santoso family
The waterfront Sutherland Shire mansion hid a secret. For four years, an Indonesian woman - brought in on a false passport by a wealthy Indonesian-Australian family - was a servant in first-world conditions earning third-world wages. Masri, who was 18 when she came to Australia with the Santoso family in 1995, was on duty 17 hours a day, seven days a week doing the house and yardwork, and helping to care for the couple's three children. During the four years she was paid a total of $5190. She sent half of that home to her family - subsistence farmers in a village.
· Sutherland Secrets
· See Also Ambiguous usage of the word "want."
· See Also The only thing that meaningfully separates Wal-Mart from its competitors is its incredible success
· See Also Who will be the new Fred at Fairfax?
· See Also Battle for the online billion-dollar monopoly dollar

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.
Jean Giraudoux

Peter's principles
The budget is not Peter Costello's bottom line. Here's a man with a surprisingly radical vision for Australia. It is an exquisite irony that the better Costello is as Treasurer, the more firmly he entrenches Howard in the job that Costello covets above all else. And the question of how and when he might succeed Howard remains awkwardly unresolved as the Government looks to the polls.
· Exquisite Political Ironies
· Punchbowl Brawlers: John Brogden has ordered an inquiry into a punch-up at a Liberal Party branch meeting
· See Also Money and power: how the ReserveBank got it all [via Official: housing bubble has lost its hot air]
· See Also We know the test of our humanity is not overcoming the power of others, but how we treat those who have none
· See Also Business News

Friday, May 07, 2004

Roozendaal Clause: Thanks to the benevolent timing of the Premier, Mr Eric Roozendaal will not have to endure the cutbacks promised by both the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the federal Opposition Leader, Mark Latham.

Do Australians want a private welfare state? Are they getting one anyway?
Private businesses now deliver a much higher proportion of health, aged, and child care services than Australians think is ideal. It is not hard to see why private businesses move into human service provision: taxpayer subsidised essential services make good business sense. But there are good reasons to suspect that privatisation makes bad social-policy sense, according to Gabrielle Meagher
· Do Australians want public/private nepotism and cronyism? Are they getting them anyway? [Link Poached from APO ]
· See Also Response to the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s Alan Jones 2GB Report (PDF format)
· See Also Toads: Highways, byways and beaches: not all fun and frolics
· See Also Silver Lining: The benefits of an ageing population (Judith Healy of The Australia Institute Fame PDF format)
· See Also The dynamics of child poverty in Australia National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Daniel Boorstin memorial turns into "book lovefest:" If Boorstin is remembered for nothing else, he will always be known as the one who opened up the Library of Congress to the people. Until he came along, the library existed pretty much to serve Congress. Boorstin saw the world's largest repository of knowledge as "a multimedia encyclopedia" and insisted that the bounty be shared with everyone.

Bipartisanship: Riding in Style
Kelvin Bissett of Australia’s Daily Telegraph used documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to show that top State MPs have spent more than $100,000 of taxpayers’ money souping up their official limousines with sports suspension, sunroofs, spoilers, mag wheels and even satellite navigation systems. The Holden Caprice vehicles have leather seats, ABS brakes, cruise control and alloy wheels standard, but some MPs added items such as mag wheels and Pirelli tires. Even the usually frugal Treasurer Michael Egan, who often drives his white Caprice himself, added a $2000 sunroof, as well as cigarette lighter and ashtray. The extras total $2451.
· Souping up [ via Scoop ]
· Backpages: Privatisation of public infrastructure... Must be some sort of magic pudding, eh?

Tax cuts for all as brackets raised
The Federal Government will lift the income levels at which tax rates cut in but has decided against raising the tax-free threshold in next week's budget, instead increasing the tax offset for low-income earners. more
· Policy Times [Link Poached from Google with more tax links]

Bush team takes hit on secret files
In several recent cases, the administration first refused requests for information by saying that releasing it would jeopardize national security, then released that same information itself at a moment when it became politically convenient to do so -- leaving the impression that it was safe to release all along.
· Document declassifications: Why a Village Well Is a Weapon in the War on Terror
· See Also Wilkie, Bolt and ONA at odds over top secret report
· See Also Webdiary columnist Antony Loewenstein interviews U.S. whistleblower Joseph Wilson

A growing log of omissions, alterations, and distortions of vital information that was once readily available through government sources.
· See Also MisInformation Exchange

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Moon river
Wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style
Some day...
Old dream maker
You heart breaker
Wherever you're going
I'm going your way...
Two drifters
Off to see the world
There's such a lot of world
To see...
We're after the same rainbow's end
Waiting around the bend
My Huckleberry friend
Moon River and me...
The band is playing "Moon River" in James Cumes' latest, not published yet, short story entitled: The Young Bug

Chinese Whisper: al- Qaeda & Drug Dragons
Only now are Western intelligence agencies becoming aware of the links that CSIS has with drugs, money laundering and the support it provides for terrorists. We are talking of billions of dollars."
· Aussie stocks help fund al- Qaeda [Link Poached from]
· See Also Colombian drugs cash ring broken

A fast spreading nightmare called Sasser hit thousands of PCs within the last few days...
To see beyond their own little world and get a sense of what's really going on, journalists and readers need to get out of their pajamas!

Battlefield of Dreams
Few Americans would want to trade places with the people of Iraq," wrote the economist, Daniel Mitchell. "But come tax time next April, they may begin to wonder who's better off." Even when he wrote that, the insurgency in Iraq was visibly boiling over; by "tax time" last month, the situation was truly desperate.
· T Time [ via ]
· See Also Instinct for bureaucratic self-protection: Cat's got his tongue about Abu Ghraib? [ via ]
· See Also Say hello to Media Matters, the new website headed up by former conservative journalist David Brock
· See Also The Next Velvet Revolution Will Not Be Blogged

Down below the lowest drawer,
where only bugs and dust should be,
on that unfinished wooden floor,
is where I woke my dear Lillie, Lilly

The best advertising is word-of-mouth
The smartest words ever said about advertising were coined decades ago by Bill Bernbach, founder of DDB: The best advertising is word-of-mouth. Damn straight. The best way to generate word-of-mouth is not to hire a great ad agency, but something much harder: to have a remarkable product (i.e. a product “worthy of remark”, quod erat demonstrandum).
· Remarkable Product [link first seen at Google ]
· See Also Google, getting rich
· See Also 4 Hot Ads: Cutting-edge practices as of today: 1) Social networking; Local search. Google and Overture; 3) Ads on blogs
· See Also Online Advertising Trends: How to Become As Rich As Jozef Imrich :)

Monday, May 03, 2004

Big profits slip under the radar
High-tech military inventions funded by taxpayers are reaping millions of dollars - for private companies.
The common practice of Defence personnel, both civil and military, jumping directly out of the Department of Defence and taking up employment with civil contractors immediately on resignation should be stopped.

· I have no mandate in terms of cold, hard dollar returns
· See Also EU celebrates historic moment: European Union becomes 10 countries larger
· See Also The World Economic Forum Weblog

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Web sites shine a light on some of the biggest secrets in the publishing industry, allowing ordinary authors to penetrate the mysteries of book marketing...

Small booksellers get big picture
New technology to help small booksellers compete with the "big guys." One of the firm's first and most satisfied customers is Karl Pohrt, owner of the Shaman Drum bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, who calls the technology nothing short of revolutionary.
· Retailing [link first seen at Boom time for Dragon books ]
· See Also Is not Google Linking Dangerously: Blogjamming & Sex

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The past decade has been one of the most eventful in American political history, from the Republican takeover of Congress to the presidential impeachment, the resignation of two speakers of the House, the deadlocked presidential election, the 2001 terrorist attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more... (Insert another shameless plug for Technorati here!)

Why Books Are the Hot Medium
Former government officials have committed their recollections to books at least since 1934, when a former White House usher, Irwin Hood Hoover, published the memoir "Forty-Two Years in the White House"... But seldom, if ever, have as many volumes thick with inside details of an administration appeared as fast as they have during the presidency of George W. Bush.
· Memoirs [link first seen at]
· See Also Insert another shameless plug for Cold Medium: I may not know what writting is but I know what I survived...
· See Also A man, a man's man, a manly man
· See Also The Jesus Factor in Amerikan Politics
· See Also Pledge to give power to the people takes centre stage
· See Also Machiavelli's philosophy: It is notoriously vile and his name has become an adjective for evil and two-faced-ness.

Selfish reasons for not wanting a tax cut!
Tax cuts or spending? The truth, as always, is more complicated.
· What the voters really want
· See Also The World Economic Forum Weblog
· See Also EU celebrates historic moment: European Union becomes 10 countries larger

The worst kept secret in the dot com business is finally in the open. Search engine Google has filed papers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering of shares. The company says it hopes to raise $2.7 billion... Defying Wall St. Tradition

Google offering: Feeling lucky?
Free Monitor for Google is a way for you to track the ranking of a certain site (or even a page) on the Google index.

· See Also Google stands out: Quirky IPO has dual-class shares, lofty ideals
· See Also John Battelle's great analysis of the Google SEC filing
· See Also Creating and publishing weblogs (Wikipedia)
· See Also Information Literacy Weblog