Saturday, April 30, 2005

As Solomon Burke sang in his Grammy winning CD, Don't Give Up on Me – None of us are free, if one of us is chained, none of us are free.

Can ordinary people win pre-selections these days? Not likely says Crikey's political correspondent Christian Kerr: Former staffers who are now pollies

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Fire Over Water

Wikinews is reporting that Boeing has just attained $11BN dollars worth of orders.

Within the earth, a mountain [courtesy of Baden Appleyard ; Jude McCulloch and Darren Palmer investigate common law actions in tort in Australia brought by citizens against police and police organisations Civil litigation by citizens against police between 1994 and 2002
• · Michael Wenzel investigated whether tax ethics and social norms constitute true motivations for tax compliance, or whether they are mere rationalisations of self-interested behaviour Motivation or rationalisation? Causal relations between ethics, norms and tax compliance
; Tax cheats steal identities of innocent victims ; The shadow treasurer insisted yesterday that the city's "battling families" were the worst affected by government land tax Tax cracks battlers' nest eggs, say Libs ; A simple way out of the maze for beleaguered landowners
• · · Why taxpayers pay their taxes voluntarily is an important question for tax administrations worldwide. Some believe it is because taxpayers are deterred from tax evasion out of a fear of being caught or penalised. Others, suggest that factors such as the level of ‘tax morale’ (the intrinsic motivation one has to pay their tax) affects compliance behaviour Tax morale in Australia: changing over time? ; Getting on or getting by? Australians in the cash economy ; Allegations that at least three of the Bali nine used false passports are being investigated by the Federal Government amid revelations that one of the group - and two members of his family - worked in the Sydney passport office Downer defends passport office integrity
• · · · The NSW economy stands to grow by $60 billion a year and each citizen will be $703 a year better off by 2022 under the current migration program, according to modelling carried out for the Federal Government Migrants will drive NSW jobs, income ; Chernobyl entombed and cracking ; Tougher dole scheme 'not the solution' ; Michelle Martin’s territory: Dr Jayant Patel: Butcher of Bundaberg Hostpital
• · · · · is offering two young writers aged 16-30 the opportunity to cover the upcoming Federal Budget from the inside Get an inside look at the 2005-6 Federal Budget ; Today is Tax Freedom Day. Every year the Centre for Independent Studies does the arithmetic to find Tax Freedom Day by dividing total per capita tax revenues by GDP per head. Most years, regardless of the political party in government, the tax take as a proportion of the nation’s GDP gets bigger. Total per capita taxation across all levels of government in 2002-03 (the latest available dates) came to $12,018, according to the ABS. GDP per person in 2002-03 was $37,172 (ABS again). This means taxation absorbed 32.33% of GDP, or 118 out of 365 days of the year. The 119th day of 2005 is today, 29 April Tax freedom arrives late; Incentives and disincentives: the potential of property taxes to support public policy objectives ; State of the sector: New South Wales co-operatives 2003
• · · · · · The Independent asks two legal experts if Tony Blair has misled the British public. Maurice Mendelson QC, an expert in international law, says "yes": "Whether the prime minister, the foreign secretary and the AG actually lied, the weasel words and economy with the truth was breathtaking, and sullied an already tarnished political process." Did Blair mislead GB? ; The public's faith in the nobility of lawyers lies somewhere in the same zone as its faith in politicians. The fact that these two tribes lurk, and sometimes breed, together is the reason unpleasant contamination seeps about. Journalists, on the other hand, have a sworn duty to try to catch out these purveyors of trickery at their rotten little games. Uncertain, to be sure, about legality of war

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Very little, argues one book; quite a lot, says another; a huge amount, contends a third. It all depends on the quality of both the donor and the recipient. Does Aid Work?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Aid to Our Very World
After decades of scepticism about development aid, the west is embracing it again... As James Cumes in his thought-provoking essay points out: The dilemma is not insoluble. The solution is there waiting for us to grasp. What is more, it is as simple as the solution which, after the Second World War, we applied to correct the economic and other miseries that had plagued us during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As we were coming out of World War Two, a great part of the world was in ruins: almost the whole of Europe as well as much of Asia and the Pacific. Weestablished the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(UNRRA) to deliver emergency aid. A Commission for the Reconstruction ofDevastated Areas in both Europe and Asia evolved into the United NationsCommissions for Europe (ECE) and for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE). Manydistinguished economists and other professionals worked on these bodies.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were very different bodies from what they are now. Both were expected to help the majorcountries - the G7 of the postwar period, if you like - to avoid themiseries of the Great Depression of the 1930s and achieve full employmentand economic stability. The World Bank would provide funds for relativelyrich countries, such as Britain or Canada or Australia, to embark on majorinfrastructure projects and so enhance their fixed-capital investment,productivity and production. The IMF would enable the same countries - and others, of course - to maintain stable exchange rates, free convertibilityand non-discrimination in financial transactions.

UNRRA largely succeeded in its work of relief and rehabilitation. The chaos and suffering of the postwar period was cleared away more quickly throughthe food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies that it was able to supply to the needy in Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
• 23 April 2005 Aid Part of Life [We can never get rid of risk, because it is an integral part of life. Without risk, there is no opportunity, and without the endless quest for opportunity business - and life itself - would grind to a halt. Too many people in the modern world are trying to make risk disappear. Risk is good - learn to manage it ; If you have have a vision, pursue it. Even if it fails, it will be a valuable lesson Never be afraid to succeed ]
• · New perspective inserts road map back into the big picture ; Do today's politicians really understand that it is the public who elects them? Are the demands of a political career simply too great for outsiders - not party apparatchiks, but real people - to be able to win seats in Parliament? The politics of dullness
• · · Margy Osmond said the formula used to distribute GST was "grossly unfair" to NSW and worked too much to the advantage of states like Queensland Firms asked to join in GST fight ; The former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias was accused yesterday of being both gamekeeper and poacher when, from 1997 to 1999, he issued about 70 private binding tax rulings Fraud trial told of tax officer's double dealing
• · · · Terror in the Past And Future Tense

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Eye on Planning:
Sydney Airport's chief executive, Max Moore Wilton, has vehemently rejected criticism from the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, of the airport's proposed retail and car park redevelopment, saying her arguments are badly researched and outdated.
Criticism flies over airport plan ; East coast towns welcome proposed railway line Carr scathing about proposed $3bn rail line
· · Telstra has announced this morning it will invest $A204.32 million in the Asian joint venture (IM)REACH Ltd. ; Two states will not buckle: NSW opposes GST funding compromise deal

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The communist revolution that spanned the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was about concentrating government ownership of capital. Then, in the closing decades of the twentieth century, a counter-revolution swept the world, pushing for just the opposite: disperse capital as widely as possible by getting everybody involved as owners. The new spirit of democratic capitalism: Butlers, Bakers, and Capitalists?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Tax Me More

My favorite authority on taxes is David Cay Johnston. Johnston reports: "Through explicit policies, as well as tax laws never reported in the news, Congress now literally takes money from those making $30,000 to $500,000 per year and funnels it in subtle ways to the super-rich -- the top one-one hundredth of one percent of Americans.

Tax changes that missed the headlines impact your bottom line [This Tax Day, I'm telling Congress to stop giving me tax breaks ; Would you be upset if someone spent millions of dollars to put your future retirement funds into a casino, while taking no risks with their own future? Your Risk, Their Gain]
• · The doubling of child malnutrition in Iraq is baffling Let Them Eat Bombs ; It's Better to be Poor in Norway Than in the US
• · · The Dirty Little Secret of Financial Globalization Profit Laundering and Tax Evasion ; Bushes Paid $207,307 In Federal Income Tax ; As Winston Churchill said "You dont make the poor richer by making the rich poorer:" Though it’s sometimes unfashionable to admit it, most of us are like Lady Bracknell. We prefer the fashionable side of the square. More trees, less noise, better view. Who knows, it might be nearer the river? Taxing position, position, position
• · · · Mr Bob Carr on the battle between the Federal Government and the States; Tax breaks for property investors have delivered a far greater boon to speculators than previously thought, gouging billions from tax revenues with the benefits going overwhelmingly to the rich. Landlords and speculators reap billions from tax rule changes ; The Australian sharemarket continued to tumble at noon, with investors panicked after a sharp fall on Wall Street on Friday night. Smell of panic hits sharemarkets ; If you believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, you’ll believe the claim Dr Nicholas Gruen made this month in a weekly column that Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel had “just uttered heresy” by saying “some consumer protection hurts consumers” Consumer Protection Hurts Consumer: A Beat Up
• · · · · Lebanese Catholics recruited to the Liberal Party by the Christian right allegedly flashed pistols to intimidate opponents at a meeting to establish a new branch, according to a complaint lodged with NSW Liberal headquarters. Lib anger over guns flashed at meeting ; John Azarias on The EU is currently Australia’s biggest trading partner
• · · · · · Friends say Pat Peritore is a mild-mannered professor of political theory during the day, but at night he’s a dueling sword fighter, even though he can’t even stand the sight of blood. Missouri's Pat Peritore ; Iraq: incredible weapons – incredible weapons. How do you know that? “Uh, well...we looked at the receipts.” Bill Hicks was a stand-up political philosopher ; Pushing Ten Commandments; Forgetting Ten Amendments

Monday, April 18, 2005

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
- Thomas Jefferson

Because debate between the parties usually dominates public discussion, it is often difficult for the backbench to make a mark. But at the moment, because the party contest is limping along without much fire in its belly, there has been plenty of attention given to the activities of government backbenchers. Some of them have become media stars or at least starlets. Howard’s backbenchers make their mark by being back in the spotlight

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Federalism
Federalism needs to be reinvented to end buck passing and duplication. Federalism seems to be dysfunctional and as George Williams noted: ‘we need to develop a new deal for Australian federalism. Aaron Timms has a strong metaphor: If federalism were a hospital patient, we’d be debating whether to switch off its life support...

AUSTRALIAN federalism has been dysfunctional for a long time. Recent disputes over GST revenue, a national industrial relations law and state referrals of power are just the latest examples of deep-seated problems. These can be traced back to when the Constitution came into force in 1901. At the time, Alfred Deakin, one of Australia’s first prime ministers, predicted that the states would find themselves ‘legally free, but financially bound to the chariot wheels of the Central Government’.

Time for long-term solutions [via Bespacific: After decades of official secrecy, periods of serious corruption and instances of political abuse, the Internal Revenue Service in the mid-1970s turned a corner and began providing the American people with information that allowed them to better judge what the agency was doing Denial of FOIA Request for Portions of IRS Manual Results in Lawsuit ; Jason Method of the Asbury Park Press reports that a construction official charged in an FBI bribery sting also is under investigation by a state agency for failing to detect several potentially deadly defects at a townhouse complex, such as inadequate fire walls. Construction Woes: Deficient fire walls ]
• · Many commentators assume that sometime before the 1980s and the emergence of economic rationalism, neo-liberalism and finance-driven capitalism was a golden age during which most people had permanent full time jobs, manageable workloads, viable communities and family life. Well, not exactly all of us, says Suzanne Franzway. Work and family life: what we’ve forgotten ; At a time when dissatisfaction with politicians is glaringly evident, the solution is not less democracy, of course; it is deeper democracy. And in deliberative experiments around the world, goverments and NGOs are attempting to extend citizen participation beyond voting, lobbying, and protesting. Lyn Carson assesses these experiments. Citizens and governments: stroppy adversaries or partners in deliberation? ; Peter Saunders analyses how the welfare state might be transformed to give ordinary people more control over key areas of their lives which are currently managed for them by the government The $85 billion tax/welfare churn ; In debates about changes in our tax laws, politicians have mostly hidden the real problems that threaten our future. They focus on the ideological class-warfare struggle that pits the poor against the rich and gets everyone screaming about unfair redistribution of wealth. Sharing the Tax Burden
• · · Bruce Kent surveys the chequered history of post-war reconstruction from the Treaty of Versailles to the present The great powers and post-war reconstruction, from Versailles to nation-building lite ; The state uses millions in tax dollars to help certain companies create jobs. But does that strategy pay off for taxpayers? Risky business ; Better to fix Telstra’s problems now, not later, argues John Quiggin Creating a risky and messy monopoly
• · · · With control of the Senate, the Coalition government will move further down the path of labour market deregulation The Australian labour market since the federal election ; The preservation of the apprenticeship system in the Australian construction industry contrasts with its collapse in Britain over the last three decades Construction industry apprenticeships in Australia and the United Kingdom: a tale of two systems ; The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning The fear factor
• · · · · via Scoop: Attacks on vehicles have accounted for as many as 40 percent of the 1,037 deaths of soldiers attributed to hostile action. Iraq: Waiting for Armor ; The past fifteen years have seen a rapid growth in private sector firms supporting military operations. More recently, the ADF has employed the private sector to varying degrees in East Timor, Bougainville, Afghanistan and Iraq War and profit: doing business on the battlefield
• · · · · · Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer of the Associated Press reviewed federal campaign. Similarly, Richard Simon, Chuck Neubauer and Rone Tempest of the Los Angeles Times Congressional Family Payrolls ; Tim Smith of the Greenville News used state records to show that relatives of two South Carolina Department of Transportation commissioners have been hired at the agency Highway commissioners' relatives hired at DOT ; Yahoo news in the new Beta version Taxing Times in America

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.

Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.
- Benjamin Franklin

The Premier, Bob Carr, said the collapse of HIH had cost the Government $600 million and Williams's sentence had given him Great satisfaction in jail term

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Taxpayers to Profit from Legal Purge: Charles O. Rossotti Lives to Tell the American Tale

The IRS is like a police department that was giving out lots of parking tickets while organized crime was running rampant
-Charles Rossotti, Former Internal Revenue Service commissioner, the bearer of sunlight
When I stepped into the job as IRS commissioner in 1997, taxpayers were mad at the Internal Revenue Service. Really mad. People testified for days at televised congressional hearings on how the agency was ruining their lives by trapping them in Kafkaesque procedures. Complaints poured into Congress. A study commission recommended a complete overhaul of the IRS. Even President Clinton weighed in, using an entire Saturday radio speech to say that he was outraged at how the IRS was harassing citizens. The public uproar did create positive change... Many Unhappy Returns: One Man's Quest to Turn Around the Most Unpopular Organization in America
The 10,000-page Income Tax Act is set to be slashed by a third in a plan to reduce taxpayers' reliance on agents, accountants and lawyers to do their returns.

The legislation has tripled in size since the Howard Government was elected, while tax rulings, determinations, guidelines and court interpretations have multiplied. Three in every four taxpayers are now forced to rely on agents to complete their tax returns, and many consider Australia's tax system to the most complicated in the world.
Ultimately, the plan by the Taxation Board, the body which advises the Treasurer, Peter Costello, on tax matters, should result in faster processing of returns by the Tax Office, reduced reliance on tax professionals and lower fees for their advice. The board's chairman, Dick Warburton, said he would be pleased if half of the country's tax lawyers were rendered redundant as a result of his measures. "I'd like to believe that," he said.

State Treasurer Andrew Refshauge yesterday produced documents showing his federal counterpart Peter Costello had encouraged the NSW Government a year ago to increase land tax, stamp duty and payroll tax.
The Third Opinion: Time to Show Tax as it is [In the war of words between federal and state politicians over taxation, there is much heat but very little light. Political dummy spits drown out the taxpayers' cries ; Big money and bigger principles are at stake in the tax battle between the states and the Federal Government A fair cut of the cake ; Where the GST goes ; Tax breaks from negative gearing have almost doubled in just four years, wiping almost $2 billion off tax revenues in 2002-03 as a shrinking number of taxpayers paid a record level of tax Taxation bites as fewer paying more ]
• · Corporate criminals Rodney Adler and Ray Williams are likely to spend their jail terms in one of the state's four remote prison camps Farm life looms for silvertails from Silverwater ; Mike Gallacher MP, the Liberal politician who wants to be the next NSW police minister, once worked in Kings Cross as an undercover cop staking out crooked detectives involved in the drugs trade. Mr Gallacher, 43, is an unlikely Liberal politician. His great uncle was the legendary Willie Gallacher, leader of a revolt by Scottish shipyard workers during World War I who met Russian leader Lenin in 1920 and became a Communist MP in the House of Commons in the 1930s. My life as a 'dog': MP recalls his Serpico role
• · · The State is the coldest of all cold monsters. - Frederich Nietzche; Shot in cold blood - Strike Force Lauma: the task ahead. Often royal commissions are cheaper in a long run then task forces, but there must be a political will to call one ... Residents too scared to leave $2m homes at night ; After Melbourne Sydney starts the underworld battle of the nightclubs Fighting talk has a hollow ring: Sydney braces for gangs who rule ; Ghost of Gary Lee-Rogers The usual suspects: The secret note that could save Schapelle
• · · · Put yourself in Mike Bolesta's place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too. A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill ; Ben Hills reports on an article by Paul Sheehan: Unique water seemed too good to be true to begin with - and the story just keeps getting stranger. Mystery of the magic water
• · · · · For a defendant in a criminal trial, Ray Williams made some good moves. But one of the most senior judges in the Supreme Court was in no mood for leniency Court was in no mood for philanthropy ; Ever so politely, Williams follows Adler down ; Mad, bad and running the company
• · · · · · Michael Gordon meets the last 54 asylum seekers held in Nauru and finds despair, depression and a sense of injustice ... and the triumph of the human spirit 'This is not detention, this is hell' ; Wealthy Poles are invading the border regions of Germany and snapping up properties at rock bottom prices in what estate agents call a dramatic reversal of historical roles Poland invades Germany: cheap homes the lure in game of catch-up ; Fred Nile’s Portrait entered in Archibald Prize

Friday, April 15, 2005

Pilgrims walk the earth.
Crippled they are, hump-backed;
Hungry, half-dressed;
In their eyes, a waning;
In their hearts—a dawning.
-Joseph Brodsky

Can a nation look for grace? Can it assign a category of persons to bear the burden of its moral tribulations, to be its collective conscience and collective sacrifice, to be its source of spiritual transcendence? In the story that Russia tells about itself, the category of people known as the intelligentsia has borne much of that burden. From Pushkin to Dostoyevsky to Brodsky, the scolds and prophets of the Russian intelligentsia have always seemed almost at their last gasp Bearing Russia's Burdens

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Trust is built on realities
The Palestinians, for their part, are expected to acknowledge that Israel will remain predominantly Jewish and that the major blocs of settlements will not be removed.

Four and a half years have passed since the Camp David talks failed to produce an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The period that followed was catastrophic for both peoples - thousands were killed, hatred spread and trust collapsed. We all paid a high price, just to return a few years later to essentially the same principles of peace.

At Camp David [Sy Hersh Says It’s Okay to Lie (Just Not in Print) The runaway mouth of America’s premier investigative journalist. Since the Abu Ghraib story broke eleven months ago, The New Yorker’s national-security correspondent, Seymour Hersh, has followed it up with a Series of spectacular scoops; America's poor are worse off than in most other developed countries. Repealing the estate tax will make it worse. Poorest Of The Poor
David R. Francis
• · Many people in the Czech Republic, not just members of the opposition party, have surely found it cathartic to have pushed Stanislav Gross to the point of offering his resignation. Through a combination of media and political pressure, the prime minister has finally offered up his political career over the apartment scandal that's become almost universally regarded as "the murk." The changing (and rearranging) of the guard; Daily Demarche is talking about refugees and refugee policy ; Lawyers and Settlements has a database of Class Action and Personal Injury Cases
• · · Richard Cohen, NY Daily News He is America's Uncivil Servant - John Bolton; A rivalry to end the world: Teller and Oppenheimer: two men, both of them insecure, cruel, hungry for power, and holding the world’s future in their hands Creator and Destroyer
• · · · The end of perestroika precipitated Russia into a space void of any real policy. Humanity is in the debt of Mikhail Gorbachev, says Eric Hobsbawm. “All the same, if I were a Russian I would also think of him as the man who brought ruin to his country” An Assembly of Ghosts; Perestroika plunged Russia into social ruin - and the world into an unprecedented superpower bid for global domination The last of the utopian projects
• · · · · America likes to talk about family values. Europe doesn’t just talk: it uses tax monies to pay for family values. Continental Drift; Richard Rahn, Washington Times The Injustice of 'Tax Justice' ; Rep. Steny Hoyer, Houston Chronicle: Tax frustrations show that the time for reform is right. Complexity's inexcusable: simplify, simplify, simplify! Conservatives don't like it, nor do liberals. No one loves the value-added tax, but the VAT is looking better all the time. Expect to hear more nice things said about it in the months to come. Simplify the Tax Code ;
• · · · · · Like It or Not, VAT's in Your Future ; How can we possibly reduce the federal deficit and find enough money for high-quality public services without raising everyone's taxes? Actually, there's a remarkably easy solution. The government just needs to get serious about collecting money from tax cheats. And this doesn't mean audits of ordinary taxpayers or mom-and-pop businesses -- that's not where the big cheating is. The biggest tax cheats ; Will Congress finally get serious about tax reform? Cracking the Code

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

In 1688 when the British Parliament dethroned James II and established political supremacy over the monarchy, its bill of rights became the fundamental, durable instrument of constitutional law. In article 9, the bill declared "freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament". In other words, MPs bestowed on themselves a right to say in Parliament what they liked, without putting themselves at risk of being sued for defamation A privilege doing MPs' business [Parliament in hot water over 'love' ]

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: States told to drop taxes or lose GST
In a speech that set out a new framework for his industrial relations and tax agenda and federal-state relations, John Howard last night attacked state governments for their "underwhelming performance".

The federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, has spelt out his threat to deprive the states of $35 billion in annual GST revenue unless they eliminate taxes of their own, as the Prime Minister vowed to override the states to impose economic reforms and deregulation.

The GST was introduced to abolish other taxes [Old flaws in federalism rise again Exposing rawness of the GST deal ; Business wants top tax rate cut to 30% Hugh Morgan: Business Council seeks income tax changes ]
• · Blog Herald: This will be a blogging election: bloggers, already a political and media force in the US, will have real visibility in the UK for the first time. Blogging the UK - British Elections 2005 ; Perfect! Election Slogan!; Digital politicking will put the snap into 2005 election
• · · 'Labour' magazine offers guide to damaging Blair; Sky News : Poll Cheat Ex-Councillor Faces Jail
• · · · The State Opposition Leader, John Brogden, will make the development of NSW infrastructure the key to his election hopes in 2007. Brogden pins hopes on great works ; Paul Nicolaou: You could've thought another papal funeral but Christine Lacy wasn't fooled Crowds flock to Brogden bandwagon ; Google: Brodgen pledges IR, tax & infrastructure changes
• · · · · Labor is ready at last to search its soul about the folly of the past Paranoia split Labor for 25 years ; Charles Ponzi had a crime named after him His Last Name Is Scheme ; As well as raising the issue of whether the law should be clarified on what tactics are allowable in local government elections, the Isaac & anor v Nannelli case is a reminder that the State Electoral Office does not enforce its own regulations Candidates in local government elections who dishonour preference deals are not guilty of any "irregularity" under the Local Government Act Election complaint dismissed
• · · · · · Russian emigre tycoon Boris Berezovsky claims that he has the tape recordings made by Mykola Melnychenko, the fugitive former bodyguard of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in Kuchma's office in 1999-2000 Berezovsky And The Ukraine's Politically Explosive Tapes ; Many observers believe the recordings may shed light on the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and secret sales of Ukrainian arms to rogue states such as Iraq and Iran Berezovsky, ahead of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's visit to the United States, has accused Kyiv of being unwilling to solve the Gongadze puzzle

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Growing numbers of policy analysts and politicians are saying that it may finally be time to consider a value-added tax as part of our federal revenue system. In years past, I would have been in the forefront of those denouncing the idea. But now, reluctantly, I have joined the pro-V.A.T. side. Here's why by Bruce Bartlett, New York Times Time for a Value-Added Tax

Invisible Hands & Markets: Proving Your Tech Costs Less: Charge Based On What You Used To Pay
Mike has been reading Andy Kessler's latest (not yet released) book, How We Got Here : A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology and Markets, and one of the themes of the book is how history seems to repeat itself.

The stories involving the industrial revolution have clear parallels in today's internet-enabled world. One story that stuck with me was the way that James Watt and Matthew Boulton figured out how to price their steam engine. Rather than selling it outright, they went to miners (the main customer of steam engines -- they needed to pump water out of their mines) and asked them how much they spent on horses, and then offered to lease them the steam engine at 1/3 the cost of all the horses the steam engine replaced. In other words, the ROI was clear and immediate. While more modern business models often promise savings, they're not so clearly tied to what they're replacing, which can increase the risk factor. However, it looks like one company in France is trying to bring back this sort of model. Altitude, a wireless broadband provider, is looking to provide VoIP services to businesses by charging them a flat-rate, which will be exactly one-half of the average of their previous year's phone bills. Basically, customer can be assured that they'll save money, since the fees will be based on what they used to pay. Of course, there are other issues to take into account, such as reliability and quality, but it's still fascinating to see this sort of business model revived.

Brave Business model via Tech Dirt [With nationalist feelings running dangerously high in China and Japan this week and threatening to spread from the political arena to the world of business, the two governments have moved quickly to try to avert a more serious crisis Japan's burden ; Outsourcing Fraud to India: Three former employees at a call center in India and nine of their associates have been charged with misusing financial data 12 Accused of Using Call Center in India to Cheat Citibank Clients. ]
• · The death bell now tolls for low interest rates. Fear does have its uses. If the sight of a tighter noose warns people away from piling up debt, all to the good The Era of Happy Borrowing is Over ; Cynics have long predicted that the Bush administration will eventually start raising taxes. Now it is becoming clear where some of that money may come from A Tax Increase That Bush Didn't Mention
• · · Evidence, Evidence, and More Evidence Lower tax rates spur economic growth. End of story
• · · · Time appears to running out for MG Rover. The crisis-hit British car company is to call in administrators following the collapse of rescue talks with Chinese car maker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. What will a Rover collapse mean? ; Bossing the bosses Corporate governance in America
• · · · · More Billionaires, More Poverty: Get Used To It ; It was appalling when the House majority leader threatened political retribution against judges who did not toe his extremist political line. The Judges Made Them Do It
• · · · · · Ian Ferrier knows a lot about failure. It's part of his success The debt collector ; Paul Cave; Peter and Richard Wynne Story Collector

Monday, April 04, 2005

Tax reform, like a second marriage, is the triumph of hope over experience Despite the widespread notion that taxes harm the economy, no one has actually been able to back that up

Eye on Politics & Economics: Pope John Paul II and Democracy
Army officers are taught two ways of commanding a brigade or division in the field. One is Directive Control, which means laying down absolutely clear general orders and priorities and then letting junior commanders carry them out. The other is Order Command. This is sometimes called “leading from the front”, or – less kindly – obsessive interference in details ...

In his long life, the Polish pope, Karol Wojtya, was at the forefront of the struggle for liberty. But in his twenty-six years at the Vatican, where did this towering figure stand on democracy? The distinguished writer Neal Ascherson dissects an ambiguous legacy

A Warrior Commander [I really want to be rich! Paul Ricoeur famously dubbed that great triumvirate of late nineteenth - and early twentieth-century thought - Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud - "An inheritance tax is an immoral death tax!"). "Beneath" or "behind" the surface lay causal forces that explained the conscious phenomena precisely because they laid bare the true meaning of those phenomena: I don't really want lots of money, I want the love I never got as a child; survivors have no moral claim on an inheritance, but it is in the interests of the ruling classes that we believe they do; and so on. The School of Suspicion ; Patrick Macklem, Rybn√° 9, Praha 1: Restitution and Memory in International Human Rights Law ]
• · Communists save Gross government ... If all goes well the commies will be celebrating their
Best May Day for years; The line is hard to walk between being carelessly alarmist about emerging risks and challenges, attracting headlines that doomsday is nigh; and being too complacent to utter responsible warnings. Public school system in need, but not failing ; Liam Lisser-Sproule turns eight in September, and that's a milestone in Woolloomooloo. From that age a child might be expected to have considered a trade, commonly cannabis dealing or stealing from cars Streets ahead: policing that beats around the bush
• · · Recent trends in income inequality in Australia ; Be honest, new Asian role is an old idea but still a good one Paul Keating
• · · · Work and family life: what we’ve forgotten ; On this date in "How Appealing" history
• · · · · And now, with Orwellian irony, Sydney Water wants to put up the price of water, because we have all been so virtuous cutting our consumption that it's not making enough money. True. Last week we used 16 per cent less water than the 10-year average, and over the past 2 years we've dropped our consumption by 12 per cent, which means less profit for Sydney Water. So we are to be punished twice, first for using too much water and then not using enough. Naughty taxpayers. It's all our fault. Orwellian irony: Sydney Water ; The detention of Cornelia Rau: legal issues of sad irony
• · · · · · Ach, Republicanism: a trap for progressives? ; The market dictates that high oil prices are here to stay Diminishing returns

Sunday, April 03, 2005

There you are, Collins,’ Colonel Ross said. ‘I think we can get your promotion next week.’
The warm feeling which came from power to arrange so quickly a considerable favor for somebody else, which was also reasonably sure to be a good stroke of business for himself, lasted him, Colonel Ross supposed, half a minute. In this life, you succeeded when you were young because you never risked letting anyone do anything for you; and when you were old you succeeded, if you did, because you never risked doing yourself what you could pick someone to do for you.
-James Gould Cozzens, Guard of Honor

Invisible Hands & Markets: Trading Places: Peter Drucker

There were 7,258 multinationals in 1969. By 2000, there were 63,000, with 80% of the world’s industrial output. And that’s just for starters...

The World Economy of Information [Study: Taxes are fourth-highest]

For a rundown on his remarkable life, take a look at the official Vatican site. Suddenly, we had a pope from the High Tatra Mountains who swam in a pool and went to the mountains to ski; a pope who talked to reporters on his plane, kissed children on the forehead and patted visitors on the arm A papal audience: Crossing The Threshold Of Hope

Art of Living & Morality Across Frontiers: A World in Mourning: Pope John Paul II: The Great
Pope John Paul II, who headed the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years, has died. THE passing of a Pope is always a dramatic moment. The great bell at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris tolled 84 times today to mark the passing of 84-year-old Pope John Paul II.

However you gauge it, the reign of John Paul II has been a pontificate on the grand scale. Inaugurated in 1978, it is the third-longest in the 2000-year history of the papacy. Karol Wojtyla became the first non-Italian to take up the crook of St Peter in more than 450 years and his nationality proved crucially important in the years following his election.
The fact that he is a Polish pope helped to destabilise communism in his native country and the rest of central and eastern Europe. As official documents for the period become available, his role in ending the divisions of the Cold War may be shown to have been more than just inspirational. Claims have been made, though never proved, that he facilitated the channelling of funds to the Polish Solidarity organisation, and that this explains at least some of the murky dealings in which the Vatican bank was found to be immersed soon afterwards.

Death of Pope John Paul II [Pontiff's final words are to world's youth: Thank you ; Man of the people who led without fear ]
• · 1920 - May 18: Karol Jozef Wojtyla born in Wadowice, Poland; 1942 - Autumn: Accepted by the Archdiocese of Krakow as a clandestine seminarian 1958 - July: Made auxiliary bishop of Krakow. 1979 - June: First visit to Poland as Pope: Don’t Be Afraid Life of a pontiff ; The Pope's death brings to an end a long ministry fighting for human rights and his uncompromising but compassionate beliefs He was simply the world's most charismatic Christian
• · · Google: Pope death received with tearful applauds ; The life of Pope John Paul II was extraordinary, from his boyhood in Poland, to his rise through the church hierarchy and his 26-year papacy. He resisted communist rule in his homeland, reached out to other faiths, and traveled widely across the world. But his conservative theology did not win over all Catholics Remembrances: The Life of Pope John Paul II
• · · · Pope John Paul spent the final hours of his life on Saturday surrounded by the only family he had -- his closest Polish aides Vatican's Apostolic Palace ; Bush hails a champion of freedom ; Poland in the late 1970s was a grim and isolated place. The economy was a shambles. The shelves of shops were empty, and consumers waited in long lines. The Communist regime went almost unchallenged. There can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland marked on its map. His theme, repeated over and over at every stop, was solidarnosz—the solidarity of the Polish people The pope altered the psychological landscape of his homeland, instilling a sense of dignity and courage
• · · · · He appointed more than 100 of the 115 cardinals who will decide his successor, he was nominally responsible for the appointment of over 4000 bishops, including my cousin Andrej Imrich, and his doctrine, especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church of 1992, presented his teaching in the language of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s His death diminishes us all ; The cardinal of Krakow was also the first Slavic pontiff and, at the age of 58, the youngest pope in 132 years Less than eight months after becoming pope, Wojtyla returned to Poland: with a message - Don’t Be Afraid
• · · · · · The Paradoxical Pope ; A "giant among the giants" ; Who will now lead one billion souls?

Friday, April 01, 2005

We really don't know how old the tradition is or who started it or why, but every April Fools' bloggosphere put out an Onion-esque posts or links.
However, the origin of April Fool's Day was best explained by another Jozef a year before Orwell’s book became reality. In 1983 Associated Press carried a report saying that Jozef Boskin, a History professor at Boston University, had discovered the origin of the Day. It reported Boskin as saying that during the Roman Empire a court jester had boasted to Emperor Constantine that fools and jesters of the court could rule better than the Emperor. So the emperor granted his request and decreed that one day in the year would be set aside for fools and jesters to rule. In the first year, Constantine appointed Kugel, and the jester decreed that only the absurd would be allowed in the kingdom on that day. And the tradition of All Fool's Day was born. The media throughout the country used the story, only to find out days later that Boskin had been lying. Boston University issued a statement apologising for the joke, and papers published corrections. Carmody of Errors: Getting the most out of April Fools' Day

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Beware of Practical Jokesters: Train of opportunity
City transport needs imaginative funding

Cities have to be constantly renewed and revitalised. Many older industrial areas and inner area sites have been renewed and most people can see that they are better. To allow areas to decline is to deny the possibility of new opportunities for younger people, and opportunities for new infrastructure and services.
Sydney needs this new development in centres and along some corridors. Centres provide amenity, services and jobs, especially knowledge economy jobs. Many centres, such as Parramatta, have grown rapidly into genuinely urban centres with a full range of services. However, many are inadequate: they do not have the population and jobs to make them a viable provider of amenities.

Rail will prove the only answer down the track [Love, like transport, is about the journey, not the destination. Connected by a dysfunctional rail system ; Australian drugs price scandal exposed ]
• · Timing and tactics are critical in Costello's bid for top job ;
• · · Jaeschke takes over at a good time for the NSW Liberals. Bob Carr’s government hasn’t had the happiest tenth anniversary. However, he will have to deal with factions going hammer and tongs NSW Libs – the fallout continues; Tim Dunlop recommends the new bloog of Senator Andrew Bartlett
• · · · Nations have interests, not friends Neighbourhood of opportunity ;
• · · · · Tax cuts don't make us work harder If taxi drivers are any guide, pay incentives may have the opposite effect ; The Howard Government's tax changes have allowed some of Australia's richest people to pay only 15 per cent tax on much of their income Rich 'pay 15% income tax'
• · · · · · The power to tax involves, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, the power to destroy. So does the power of tax reform, which is one reason why Rep. John Linder, a Georgia Republican, has a 133-page bill to replace 55,000 pages of tax rules. A better way to tax -- and to decommission 'K Street' ; Oil and democracy do not mix easily in countries that depend highly on oil revenue Tyranny's Full Tank