Sunday, November 26, 2006

From 1997 until 2005 Graham was the patron of the Australasian Tax Teachers Association. Cynthia Coleman, who invited him to be patron is reported as having said:

“He came to every conference, he gave a fabulous technical talk, and he always said ‘put me up in the cheapest accommodation so I can meet the most people’ - he made himself available to everybody.”

Without any doubt, nearly everyone who heard Justice Hill speak at conferences on issues such as public private infrastructures became interested in tax issues. I first met him in late 1990s at one of the NSW Public Accounts Committee seminars and my interest in taxation was never the same ;-)
His greatest contribution to revenue law was in the area of practising, teaching and deciding revenue issues. Professor Patrick Gallagher had this to say of Graham as an academic:
' In that time, he had created an unannounced reputation as one of Australia's leading tax academics - albeit his academic work was always 'part-time' - in name at least. The quality of his teaching was exceptional and his writings and legal research (which have been fully catalogued recently by Colin Fong), in the form of papers, judgments and public addresses - not to mention the Stamp Duty service he wrote with Bill Cannon and Michael Aitken - were at the cutting edge of practical tax analysis .'

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

WHEN it comes to freedom of speech we are in danger of losing our sense of perspective, as well as our sense of humour. The latest proposal from Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is to ban books that praise terrorism and to censor TV shows like Big Brother. The status quo in Australia is shifting, writes George Williams
THE most depressing aspect of yesterday's landmark High Court decision on the Freedom of Information Act is the virtual how-to guide it includes for ministers of the Crown who want to keep documents secret. In killing off Michael McKinnon's four-year fight to get hold of documents about abuses of the first-home owners' scheme and the government tax revenue from bracket creep, the court backed four of Peter Costello's seven arguments stating their release was not in the public interest. Scrutinising our political masters just got harder

Catch a Fire of Freedom Noyce of Loud Note
conTROVERSY is the lifeblood of a university that is doing its duty. It has long been thus and it is today. Modern societies expect contemporary universities to be working at the frontiers of knowledge, discovering new insights that advance understanding and improve wellbeing. Discovery, whether in the biosciences or nuclear physics or other fields, raises questions that challenge orthodoxy within the disciplines and also in the wider community. Complex matters give rise to competing views and values. Restricting academic freedom

THE John Howard–Peter Costello leadership rivalry is moving towards a denouement of sorts. While the outcome is unpredictable, it is worth posing a question that goes beyond the standard political calculations over which man will ultimately prevail. Is there a point when a government’s longevity ceases to be compatible with the best democratic interests of the nation and, if so, are we approaching that time with the Coalition government, no matter whether led by Howard or Costello?

The longer a government remains in power, the less it is willing to be accountable ; Why property investors love the tax man
• · Nicholas Gruen Improving capital taxation in Australia; Roy Davies, a librarian at University of Exeter, United Kingdom, has put together an impressive collection of links relating to financial scandals Scandals of Real Note ; Trust in business is falling, industry chief warns
• · · Legislative anarchy ; Court ruling says the days of tax exiles are numbered
• · · · Before the moratorium on income trusts was announced recently, they were costing Canada's treasury about $500 million a year, on target to reach $800 million or more - much more. No corresponding figure is available for the taxes Canadian firms and wealthy individuals are not paying Ottawa by parking their money in offshore tax havens. But the numbers are big, billions big. Overseas havens favour the wealthy ; Billionaire Roman Abramovich owns a large amount of property in London Londoners complain that it is expensive, dirty and over-crowded - but not everybody agrees. The capital, which is home to 7.4 million people, is also home to 23 of the world's richest people. With this tally, London was named yesterday as the 'unchallenged magnet' for the world's billionaires. No other city holds such a captivating power over people who have enough money to live in a palace anywhere that they choose. Research shows London is now home to the world's super rich

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Max Newnham writes how there is nothing new under the sun ... but some things are worth repeating ...

With tax, we're all just history
THEY say that there are two inevitabilities in life — death and taxes. When you look at the history of taxation you also realise that with taxation came the other inevitability, tax avoidance. Income tax as we know it today is, however, a relatively new innovation. One of the earliest examples of tax was in the time of the Egyptian pharaohs who imposed a tax on the consumption of cooking oil.

The possibility that this tax was being avoided is evidenced by the activities of the scribes charged with collecting the tax. They visited households to ensure the occupants were not using lard and other forms of fat to avoid paying the tax.

The Romans were also taxation pioneers; their innovations included customs duties charged at ports on both imports and exports, and an inheritance tax used to provide funds for retired soldiers.

Julius Caesar imposed a 1 per cent sales tax that was eventually increased to 4 per cent on the sale of slaves.
Many of the earliest forms of tax in Britain were imposed on products and land.
The land taxes took many forms, including a tax based on the land area a house occupied or one based on the number of windows a house had.

Part of the distinctive look of Tudor-style houses comes from minimising tax rather than architectural inspiration. Apart from the use of painted white panels framed by wood, many Tudor-style houses are also distinctive because the ground floor is smaller than the upper stories.

This overhang of the building over the street was a design response to the fact that, the less land the ground floor occupied, the lower the property taxes.

Another feature of English architecture is the number of houses that appear to have once had windows that are now bricked up. This was another early form of tax minimisation. Buildings were taxed according to their glass windows, so some property owners simply did away with some of the windows.

The earliest form of income tax was introduced in Britain to finance the war against Napoleon in 1799. It was an unpopular tax and many people must have found ways to avoid it: instead of collecting an anticipated expected £10 million in the first year, they only got £6 million.

When a peace treaty was signed with France, the tax was repealed, but it was reintroduced when hostilities resumed.
It is this second tax act that is the model for most modern tax systems. In addition to imposing tax on different classes of income, such as property, farming, retirement annuities and wages, there was also a withholding tax on interest income paid by the Bank of England.

This second version of income tax was again extremely unpopular. Following the victory at Waterloo, it was not only repealed, all records associated with it were destroyed.

Britain's current income tax system was introduced in 1842 as another temporary tax, supposedly to last just three years. It is still a temporary tax that expires each year on April 5, and must be reapplied by an annual finance act.

The history of American income tax is similar to Britain's.
An income tax based on the original 1799 income tax was drawn up to fund war with Britain in 1812 but this tax was never imposed. It was not until the Civil War when a progressive income tax commenced.

Again tax avoidance must have been high as only 276,661 people filed tax returns in 1870 out of a total population of about 38 million.

The new the old approaches under the sun and the price of civilisation

Friday, September 22, 2006

Criminalization of Political Processes

"To the victors belong the spoils"1 and "money is the mother's milk of politics"2 are adages growing in obsolescence in the context of a recent trend to criminalize conduct which historically had been deemed politically acceptable.

While political patronage flourishes in some spheres of government (from presidential appointments to local clubhouse politics), some legislative limits have been imposed and criminally enforced. In addition, Some political benefits procured by way of campaign contributions have been criminalized despite recognition by the U.S. Supreme Court that ...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The figures are out, so now comes the hard part for NSW Treasurer Michael Costa - selling his pre-election budget - State promised investment in future: Australia's NSW State Forecasts Deficit, Borrows A$17.4 Bln Excuses, excuses: Costa's house of cards strategy
Debnam decries deficit - Betting the future on a dark horse - NSW plunges into the red What a gamble: Hark, the sound of chickens coming home to roost

Michael Sallah, Pulitzer Prize winner for work on Vietnam, discusses the parallels between the massacres at Haditha and My Lai. I Hope the Investigation Goes up the Food Chain
Mitch McConnell is the odds on favorite to become the next Senate Republican leader. Why? He's not Bill Frist. In The Wings

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Tea with the FT: ‘That is not the issue’
Among the first things Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, says to me when we sit down is: “That is not the issue.” It was his response to my first question, about the likely outcome of this weekend’s Czech parliamentary elections, and it sets the tone of the rest of the interview.

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, whose parliament goes to the polls this weekend, may have no small talk but he does have an answer for everything.

Polls [Continuing high levels of support for Prime Minister John Howard and his government have confounded the Labor opposition, and are cause for triumphalism on the conservative side of politics. Coalitions for change: Building bridges in Howard’s Australia ; Poland takes a sharp right turn: Poland could be Europe's first red state. But Poland cuts against the grain ]
• · An interview with Madeleine Albright: "Iraq was a really badly planned operation With the US bogged down in Iraq and Iran defiant over its nuclear program, US foreign policy makers are faced with numerous challenges; Nova 969's Merrick and Rosso were forced to make an on-air apology this morning after a prostitute claimed she had "seen" a senior Labor politician. Prostitute names pollie on air
• · · Promina Group has received ATO approval to proceed with its planned capital return to shareholders of 15c an ordinary share about $156 million. Promina to return $156m ; Bertelsmann agrees £3bn buyback deal
• · · · Australian Financial Review, 29/05/2006, General News, page 5 By: Michaela Boland (no relation to Bruce Boland ;-) During his final year as federal minister for the arts, Rod Kemp plans to fix the film industry or at the very least give it every opportunity to fix itself. Unsurprisingly his ambition has generated plaudits from a sector struggling to keep pace with rocketing costs and rapid change. Review offers hope for filmmakers' funding fix ; Tax rort extraordinaire It's worth uncovering the secrets of the new super model. Shush money
• · · · · What makes the attack even more remarkable is that it was delivered not by a Liberal but by a Labor member of the NSW upper house who is in the same right-wing faction as Mr Punch Fraud, tax cheat and woman abuser: MP attacks Punch ; Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, whose parliament goes to the polls this weekend, may have no small talk but he does have an answer for everything. Poland takes a sharp right turn: Poland could be Tea with the FT: ‘That is not the issue’
• · · · · · Interdependence between sexual debut and church attendance in Italy ; PDF version: Salaries of Members of Congress: A List of Payable Rates and Effective Dates, 1789-2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Geoff Mulgan is the ultimate New Labourite. He used to be head of policy at No 10 and founded the Blairite thinktank Demos The power of influence

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Let's share Canada's vast wealth
Economic boom is boosting top salaries of wealthy CEOs at expense of working poor

There has been a monumental shift in mainstream economics over the past 40 years.
When we studied economics in the 1960s, economists and public officials who had an economics policy mandate identified a number of important national goals — full employment, rapid economic growth, a viable balance of payments and an equitable distribution of income. These goals were stated in the terms of reference of the Economic Council of Canada and repeated in the Council's First Annual Review of 1964, "Economic Goals for Canada to 1970."

Goals [ Corruption, most blatant at the local level, is still dragging the country down Brown envelopes ; ; ]
• · Now that earmarks have been tainted by scandal, what's a self-respecting pork barreler to do? Fight back, of course. What's Wrong With a Healthy Helping of Pork? ;
• · · Where's the radical realism when we need it? An old communist confesses: the class war is over and even Rupert Murdoch makes sense EVERYONE remembers where they were the first time they found themselves agreeing with Rupert Murdoch ; Two defining moments in their history, the dawn of the Cold War and the '60s antiwar movement, present stark alternatives -- and reflect a lasting rift within the party The choice ; Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation
• · · · Fashionable Guerrillas: For the Left, noble revolutionaries are always in style. Notwithstanding the political catastrophes of the twentieth century, the notion of the noble guerrilla persists on the left ; In his new book Europe as Empire, the Oxford academic Jan Zielonka has come up with a novel solution to the problem. Europe, he cheekily suggests, is best characterised not as a state at all but as a hulking great empire, a juggernaut movingly slowly but determinedly east and south. The European empire
• · · · · The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems The Rise of Crowdsourcing ; Corporate R & D. Robert Shiller provides career counseling for the twenty-first century Career concerns
• · · · · · Comment on "A Garage and an Idea: What More Does an Entrepreneur Need?" High Tech's Log Cabin ; MySpace, MyPolitics

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Banks the world over are scrambling to become larger, whether by organic growth or by mergers and acquisitions Thinking big

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch
Freegans seek to prevent waste by reclaiming, recovering, and repairing available resources rather than generate new profit.

Adam Weissman crouches on a city street, his hands buried in a large plastic garbage bag while eyeing a neighboring black container bulging with food. This isn't another image of urban homelessness. This is freeganism, a lifestyle founded on recovering perfectly good "trash" via "Dumpster diving" or "urban foraging," instead of spending hard-earned paychecks on the same products in stores.

• There is such a thing as a Free Lunch: Freegans dig up an eco-conscious, anti-consumerist existence: It's not that gross! Really Really Free Markets [From Mother Jones, an article on The Israel Lobby: How powerful is it really? The London Review of Books in March by John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt's article The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is it Really? ; Already, several Republicans have suggested that Hayden isn't the right man to lead a CIA in crisis Is US intelligence getting dumber? ]
• · By Karina Barrymore. 15/05/2006. Herald Sun. Page 27. Australians' superannuation planning has suddenly been thrown into confusion. The proposed changes announced in the 2006-07 Budget have left many people wondering what to do, especially given the finer details of the plan have not revealed that most of the changes will not take effect until July 2007. Financial planners advise that Australians should postpone retirement, so that they can make use of the new tax-free super benefits for people aged 60 and over. If this is not possible, or if a person has already retired, he or she should take out as little super as possible, or even return some, until he or she turns 60. Playing super roulette. ; MANY PEOPLE think socialism is impossible WHAT DO SOCIALISTS SAY ABOUT... ; You’re right to point out the contrast I make between capitalism and morality How Individualist Is Human Nature?
• · · Mark Phillips Negatively geared property investments may have become less attractive because of the new personal tax rates to kick in on July 1, according to tax experts. It has long been held that high personal income tax rates provide a strong incentive to negative gear to claw some of that tax back through deductions for losses from interest payments that exceed rental or dividend income. Australian Financial Review, 11/05/2006 Hit to negative gearing ; Age, 11/05/2006, Letters, page 16 Why does the Federal Government think income from labour should be taxed more heavily than income from investments? If anything, the reverse should be the case. Work takes significant time and effort. Only a mug would go in for real work
• · · · The best way to limit prostitution is to raise male wages, thereby increasing the return to becoming a wife. The economics of prostitution: Who's Counting: Sexonomics ; The glue that holds tribes together are dialects. Whereas Rome's empire fell apart and never reconstituted itself, the Chinese Empire regrouped again and again, thanks in part to the resilience of its tribes. Today all over the world people abandon tribes for the freedom and money of democracy, but democracy itself may not survive without tribes Why democracy may not survive without tribes ; Three years after hitting bottom with the war in Iraq, transatlantic relations have regained their calm A look at why Europe and the United States are condemned to pretending to agree
• · · · · Inspirational - yet worlds apart: there was no doubt about the victor in our readers' survey to find the heroes of our time. Heroes of our time - the top 50 ; This federal budget has some parallels with Dorothy's journey on the way to the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. Remember her confrontation with the lion? The Howard Government has lacked the courage to truly reform the taxation system. Where was your courage, Treasurer? ; An article on the new secrecy doctrine so secret you don't even know about it. Secret Guarding
• · · · · · Why didn't we have genuine reform so that less taxpayer money is taken in the first place? Pluck the goose, minimise the squealing, collect the golden eggs ; Taxpayers and public transport users are entitled to know how long it will take to get from A to B under Steve Bracks' grand plan Yes, minister, it takes ages, costs more ; He's barely known outside Washington, but David Addington is the most powerful man you've never heard of. Cheney's Guy

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Of course I am above sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. So serious a servant of the public interest am I, I can fogey with the best: On my better days, I make David Broder look like Page Six. Molly Ivins: The Best Little Whorehouse in Washington

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Sun, surf and birth of new economic model
Peter Costello's 11th Budget is, to borrow a phrase from his predecessor, one that brings home the bacon. He has delivered sweeping reforms to personal income tax, superannuation and family benefits by capitalising on Australia's strong economy. The American billionaire Paul Getty once remarked that 'money isn't everything, but it sure keeps you in touch with your children'. Or, in the case of yesterday's budget, it is a sure way to keep a government in touch with its constituents. The 2006 Australian budget

Financial Times, unheralded and almost unnoticed, the world has seen the emergence of a new economic model in Australia

Manna or myopia? [The rise of the Indian economy is one of the most important economic developments of our day The rise of the Indian economy; Alarmist rhetoric from President Vladimir Putin; skinhead violence on Russian streets. Is there a connection in playing the dangerous game? As the US enters a potential Cold War II with Russia, it has one hand tied behind its back. And where does North America end and Russia begin? The political boundaries haven't changed, but the geological ones will have to - North America just got smaller ]
• · America's ability to absorb immigrants has changed: it's higher today than at any time in history. Absorption Nation ; A system of political secrecy conceals an economy where injustice, exploitation and corruption rules Turkmenistan’s hidden travails ; Happy (5th) Birthday to us! openDemocracy greetings
• · · From Grist, an interview with accidental movie star Al Gore Al Revere ; There is a predictable annual ritual which begins when the Census Bureau releases its estimates that roughly one eighth of Americans live in poverty, and that this proportion has been relatively invariant in recent years despite the steady rise of per capita real incomes How prosperity generates poverty; Internal Separation of Powers: Checking Today’s Most Dangerous Branch from Within. Legislative abdication is the reigning modus operandi
• · · · Has the corporate-responsibility movement lost sight of the big picture? Just as people sailing full-tilt into an iceberg zone can get distracted rearranging deck chairs, those of us advocating corporate responsibility may be guilty of spending too much time fiddling with the nuances of the language that describes our work. It's the Economics, Stupid ; At Bloomberg's Big Bash, Fame's the Name of the Game Life of the Afterparty ; An end to the neo-soviet nightmare: The accounting standards rulebook is being rewritten, but is it increasing the perception that auditors are insurers of the last resort? An end to the neo-soviet nightmare
• · · · · Why no one has much chance of toppling Congress's incumbents A Fake Democracy? ; A recent floodlet of books offers a surprisingly coherent portrait of the White House's management style All the President's Books (Minding History's Whys and Wherefores)
• · · · · · Hugh Morgan ignores the cost of the intolerant policies he proposes CITIZENSHIP Let’s learn from Europe’s mistakes; Playing Barranquero roulette - Promina confident of meeting targets: We currently expect this event to lead to claims of between $40 (million) and $50 million pre-tax, Promina chief executive Mike Wilkins told the annual general meeting in Sydney. The insurer behind brands including AAMI and Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency is the last of the major Australian general insurers to reveal its claims losses from the cyclone that hit far north Queensland last month. Cyclone Larry won't flatten profits, says Promina Famous last words ...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sydney investors are left $20 million out of pocket by the collapse of the city's biggest catering firm but the company's bankrupt co-founder still lives in a $3 million house. Ben Hills investigates The Cabinet: a recipe for disaster

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: $37 billion in tax cuts
Tax cuts worth $37 billion, including reductions in the top two rates of tax, are the centrepiece of Peter Costello's 11th budget.

In an unexpected move, the Treasurer also revealed a plan to streamline the superannuation system and deliver tax benefits, especially to high income earners.

• Key points of 2006-07 budget What do you think about Budget 2006? [Workers, especially those on high incomes, cleaned up in the federal budget with tax cuts worth $7 to $100 or more a week. Workers get up to $100 more a week ; Our hideously complicated tax system will be a little simpler, fairer and more efficient after July 1. Simpler, fairer tax system ]
• · Out of necessity, the story of Beirut is also a story of power, memory, and statecraft. Out of necessity ; Australia spends up and slashes taxes
• · · Tax freedom day this year is April 25. This means it is a holiday for most Australians, for April 25 is also Anzac Day. As of today, Australians are working for themselves and not the taxman. The Centre for Independent Studies has worked out that yesterday was Tax Freedom Day, when Australians finished paying their taxes and could now theoretically keep all that they earn. Tax evaders to be targeted: Costello Toward a Negative Definition of Tax Incentives ; Budget to 'help middle income families'
• · · · A new round of tax cuts on top of a big boost to family payments will be the centrepiece of the federal budget tomorrow. Tax cuts for all, cash for families ; There are now almost a million Australian taxpayers who negatively gear properties, receiving an average personal tax deduction of $A125 a week. A substantial rise in the number of existing landlords who started to make a loss at the end of the property boom meant the gap between total rental income and deductions increased from $A1.46bn to $A2.78bn in 2003-04. The number of people negatively gearing properties rose by 58,000 to 940,000 in the year, with the average deduction rising from $A5,159 to $A6,522. In 2003-04, some 63% of all landlords in Australia negatively geared, which happens when tax deductions exceed rental income. The trend is of concern to the Australian Taxation Office, but the effect on the federal Budget is being concealed by higher tax revenues from workers and employees Negative gearing blowout. ; John Howard is an astonishing political creature. Maybe that's no longer breaking news, but the man continues to be a phenomenon. Most voters would not have noticed, but the mid-point between the last federal election and the next one was reached two weeks ago. The Prime Minister noticed. How to scare the voters
• · · · · There has been a large amount of public debate for months leading up to this week’s Budget about the need for tax reform, and what form that should take. Public interest versus political opportunism ; POOR old Treasurer, can't take a trick. This budget, arguably more than any of its 10 older siblings, is Peter Costello's lovechild. The wannabe prime minister demanded and received a report to help him own and shape the endless tax argument preceding tonight's announcement. After 10 tries, Treasurer's best nomination yet
• · · · · · Swimming in cash ; Budget jackpot

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The exchange only took a moment, but it was one of those moments that bothers you all day:
"Wouldn't shooting cell-phone users in research libraries be counterproductive?" you might well ask. "Wouldn't that actually make the library more noisy?"
A fair point. Yes, it would. But not for long...
-Scott McLemee

The decline of Western civilization proceeds apace. One shudders to imagine life in decades hence. A case in point: People now use cell phones in research libraries. The cell phone, then, is a little like a fart, and a lot like a knife

According to Vaclav Havel, post-communism entails carrying the burden of decision-making; choice is now a fact of life PSYCHOLOGY: The burden of freedom

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Mark Satin: Radical Middle Articles for April 2006
Just Give Them the Money!: How to End Poverty While Reaching Out to Left and Right"

Dear Radical Middle Online Newsletter Reader,
Here are our feature articles for April 2006. Hope you enjoy. . . .
Everyone is appalled that we still have tens of millions of poor &struggling people in this country; no one seems to have a viable solution (that wouldn't bust the bank). Enter Charles Murray with a Plan intended to "extend a hand across the political divide between libertarians and social democrats." It would give up to $10,000 a year to each of us, provide for our health care & retirement, and save money in the not-so-long run.
Quick, where are the activists?

Where are the politicians? [Zadie Smith's On Beauty: First Great Radical Middle Political Novel has been largely ignored by critics on the far left and far right, and no wonder - It's our first great radical middle political novel ; It is one of the most infamous incidents of the war in Iraq: On March 31, 2004 Murk in blackwater; Libya and Justice for All Privacy case notes released ; The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism makes strange bedfellows; If they weren't such fecking terrorists, then maybe they could have a spot, aye? I first met the man now called Kevin Fulton in London, on platform 13 at Victoria Station. We almost missed each other in the crowd; he didn't look at all like a terrorist. He might have been an Irish grammar-school teacher, not an IRA bomber or a British spy in hiding ]
• · Millions of taxpayers would be spared the drudgery of completing and lodging annual tax returns under a plan being examined by the taxation watchdog Tax chief looks at scrapping returns ; ATTRACTING attention at the traffic lights might be a driving force behind buying the latest Porsche, but luxury car-lovers are about to draw some unwanted attention from the Australian Taxation Office. ATO to target luxury cars; A FORMER tax office worker accused of receiving cash, overseas trips and sex in exchange for secret information about the illicit tobacco industry Tax man in court
• · · COMMUTERS who use public transport should be able to claim tickets as tax deductions in the same way that people who drive private cars receive tax breaks NSW calls for ticket tax breaks ; The oldest cliche is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. The first real casualty of war ; It is fundamental to the rule of law that like cases be treated alike. Yet, with hundreds of judges in tens of countries applying the law established in the Refugee Convention, there is considerable divergence in the way this universal law is applied International judicial commission on refugees; At the height of the morning commute on March 11, 2004, ten bombs exploded in and around four train stations in Madrid Europe’s Two Culture Wars
• · · · Moneymaking opportunities have grown rapidly in fields such as education, law, business and agriculture, records show Professors For Hire ; Three scandals have unnerved even the Prime Minister . THINGS are not always as they seem in the overheated atmosphere of British politics Black Wednesday clouds hover over Blair ; Cole Inquiry and AWB: Corporate culture and criminal responsibility
• · · · · The balancing act the Federal Government is performing between liberties and the need for security in response to the terrorist threat has prompted some commentators to renew calls for a bill of rights which would supposedly protect us from intrusive laws All bets are off when a bill of rights comes in ; IF PEOPLE acted in a purely rational manner when it came to their finances, IBISWorld chairman Phil Ruthven would probably be right. Ruthven reckons there will be a decline in home ownership in Australia when people realise "what a terrible investment it is". Renting v buying: some home truths ; Anti-money laundering resources
• · · · · · Czech absinthes start to show some promise Dangerous to know ; Florida Corporate Contributors William March and Doug Stanley of the Tampa Tribune used state campaign finance data to illustrate how Florida’s law limiting contributions to $500 can be avoided by corporate entities: “Form a laundry list of companies, then have each give the limit of $500 to the candidate of your choice Campaign Bundles Skirt Law ; It is economically and morally wrong for the world's poor immigrants to be locked out of work in the richest countries. The case for globalized labor

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rumour has it that there's nothing more embarrassing than a sore loser. Barranquero has it in spades and is trying to cling to brick and mortar at 2 Market Street aka 239 Kent St like a drowning avocado grasps at straws. (Yee my virtual chinese comrade of chatswood fame ;-)

Always pretend to be stupid; then when you have to show yourself smart, the display has the addtional effect of surprise. When a situation is hopeless, never listen to counsels of hope. Fold the enterprise. If Chance ever got Herself called God, I should have been a very good Catholic indeed Taking the blame is a function of servants. When the orange is squeezed, throw it away

Nearly 20 years ago, when the tax department completed a secret investigation into a drug dealer who had evaded police for years, they hit him with a bill for $1,348,048.60. But instead of jail and certain financial ruin, the dealer was able to make a deal. Crime doesn't pay? At least it will pay tax now that the ATO is working with police to target the ill-gotten assets of major crime figures. In a crackdown flagged by Peter Costello in 2004 20 suspected underworld figures will be referred to the Tax Office each year A taxing strategy

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Sovietologists: The "Mystery" of the Soviet Collapse
As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of the demise of the Soviet Union, its sudden collapse remains mysterious

The failure of U.S. Sovietologists to anticipate the Soviet collapse may in part be attributed to the "Cold War revisionism" and anti-anticommunism that tended to exaggerate the Soviet regime’s stability and legitimacy. Yet others who could hardly be considered "soft on communism" were also left feeling puzzled by its demise. George F. Kennan, an architect of U.S. strategy in the Cold War, confessed that in reviewing the entire "history of international affairs in the modern era" he found it "hard to think of any event more strange and startling, and at first glance inexplicable, than the sudden and total disintegration and disappearance. . .of the great power known successively as the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.

• Ethics is not a subject, it is a life put to the test in a thousand daily moments Every revolution is a surprise - Antony Loewenstein: Don't let any lobby shut down debate [The phrase is a spin doctor's concoction, intended to sound impressive but Flexibility of boiled frogs ; David Corn on how 2008 Looking Like 1968]
• · Underworld godfather Tony Mokbel would have lost his liberty this week - but he is not around to serve his jail term. John Silvester profiles the small man who wanted big things A rise of a drug lord ; The CRW (Crikey Revised Wealth) Rich List When you get the power, then you get the women
• · · Michelle Malkin: The arrest of Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian J. Doyle on felony charges of sexually preying on a undercover cop posing as a 14-year-old girl this week is just the latest debacle for the bureaucratic behemoth THE FINE MESS AT DHS ; The Department of Homeland Security is moving ahead with its plan to change how it evaluates and pays employees, even as it tries to fend off unions in court. Homeland Security Pay Plan Goes Forward, but Unions Are Wary
• · · · Good Grief! National innovation systems: Finland, Sweden & Australia compared ; As part of a major overhaul of the Family Law Act, the federal government plans to spend $200 million establishing a network of Family Relationship Centres across the country Family relationship centres: why we don’t need them
• · · · · Since the kickback scandal involving Australian Wheat Board sales to Iraq was revealed last year, shareholders in AWB have seen their investment shrink by 41 percent AWB shares ; Another essay in The Fix series: Putting It Out There. “Among the changes that technology has given us, few may be as influential in the long-term as the irresistable movement forcing news organizations to open up. Putting It Out There
• · · · · · Created in 1970, the system of Senate estimates committees was intended as a more effective means for senators to put questions to ministers and public servants about government activities. Often a thorn in the side of government, the committees have played an important role in government accountability. Yet they would never have come into existence if the government of the day had controlled the Senate. And this, argues Harry Evans, Clerk of the Senate, is a reminder that we are in uncharted waters today. Estimates hearings and government control of the Senate ; As for my brother’s death in 1987, there were a number of factors behind the depression that drove him to end his own life. One of those was the gloom brought on by translating Kafka’s The Trial. Another reason was the effort it took him to write his last book, The Drowned and the Saved - it took everything out of him. The Machine Gun Under the Bed

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yesterday looked like a quiet day in political circles until Treasurer Peter Costello strode forth mid-afternoon with his 400-page International Comparison of Australia's Taxes compiled under the gaze of business reps Dick Warburton and Peter Hendy. The press gallery scrambled to get the story of the day. Three minutes into Costello's address, Prime Minister John Howard sent out a press release, a three-liner saying he would be appearing today at the Cole inquiry into the oil-forfood scandal. Fatal distraction
As far as Peter Costello is concerned, Slovakia might be a nice place, but that doesn't mean Australia should copy its tax system. Releasing the international tax comparison report yesterday, the Treasurer played down any prospect of lowering Australia's 48.5per cent top personal tax rate to bring it into line with the 30 per cent corporate rate. Slovakian harmony jars with Treasurer

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: There's nothing fair in love and economy: How many bananas short of a republic?
Banana republic n. A small country that is economically dependent on a single export

The general consensus on globalization is that its benefits, great as they may be, are spread somewhat slowly and unevenly. Even the most passionate supporters of globalization concede that the transition to an open economy can be painful and that it should always be carefully managed.
The distribution of the fruits of globalization has much to do with the preexisting conditions of an economy, and of course, the first world once again has a significant advantage. For example, in societies that lack a transparent political process, a fair and efficient tax system, or a lagging education (among many other things), it is very possible that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Argentina, for instance, following some liberal economic reforms, saw a significant growth in employment thanks to the creation of "call centers." In order to be able to get such a job you have to be able to speak English fluently and be able to convince the person on the other end of the line that your name really is Buck and that you are based in Dallas. Needless to say, the poor need not apply.

• Young man from a marginal neighborhood Globalization of the criminal [Taxploitation edited by Peter Saunders: The system is riddled with distortions and disincentive effects. There are so many special allowances, exemptions, credits, offsets and write-offs that tax law has become almost indecipherable, and gross amounts of money and time get spent trying to reduce liability to tax. Rich in risk and reward: some good eggs among taxpayers although some are still rotten ; The Australian Financial Review --- Page:63. : 05-Apr-2006 Australia has a federalist system of government, set up under the constitution. The Australian Government, based in Canberra, deals with national issues, while the various state governments deal with schools, hospitals and similar services. Many critics argue that the Australian Government is starting to encroach on the states' territory. They call this "creeping centralism". One man's give is the other's take [A taxpayer-funded media war between the NSW and federal treasurers, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, is being waged ironically over our taxes. State Treasurer Michael Costa, who will hand down his first Budget on May 30, yesterday began hostilities with an ad campaign attacking Federal Treasurer Peter Costello over the GST payments. Prime Minister John Howard is quoted as saying it is pie in the sky to imagine that with complicated business arrangements that you can have a Tax Act that thin - Like life, it's not easy - Pie in the sky? More like mud in his eye. National accountants unite ; Australians paid $278.5 billion in tax to all levels of government in 2004-05. The ABS found that the amount of tax paid by Australians increased 8.3 per cent over 2003-04, or more than $21 billion. Never say accountancy is boring. A passionate debate between theorists and pragmatists is threatening to derail a long-running project to harmonise the two sets of accounting rules for financial reporting by federal and state governments Accounting debate divides profession Study seeks ideas on tax compliance costs submissions can be made direct to Setting the tax agenda ; Single girls tax seduction Accountants are picked up as # 1 target of single women in Australia ]
• · Everyone deplores the income-tax system, but nobody does anything about them. Understanding is the key to realising potential. The Guardians of Complexity ; A look at why big business is as responsible for higher taxes as Ted Kennedy ... Ebenezer Scrooge is a byword in popular culture for meanness both temporal and spiritual. Yet according to a revisionist literary historian, the Scottish merchant who was the inspiration for the Charles Dickens character, Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, was actually a generous and jovial man in 19th-century Edinburgh. Big business v. low taxes ; Money, Page 6 by Annette Sampson: It's not but along with the strategies in this week's cover story, changes to super have opened the door for more taxeffective life insurance for low income earners and non-working spouses. How to make life insurance tax-friendly ; Tanya Plibersek - It's strange tax system indeed that encourages traffic congestion and pollution and punishes the users of public transport. Our fringe benefits tax system does just that. The tax perk that gives cars a free ride ; It seems the OECD issued two quite different versions of its annual re-port on Taxing Wages last week. The version Peter Costello saw gave Aust-ralia a glowing rap, whereas the version seen by the Opposition and the media gave us a very ordinary mark. There's many a slip when politicians have 'tax' on their lips
• · · The Good - Vestas V90 3-megawatt wind turbines will be used for the first time in Italy First Allianz wind farm investment ; Explore the World of Allianz
• · · · The Bad Fiscal Apocalypse Now ; Enron and the fraud that changed everything
• · · · · Slavoj Zizek -In the last decade, Davos and Porto Alegre have emerged as the twin cities of globalization. The usual gang of suspects: Bill Gates and George Soros, the CEOs of Google, IBM, Intel, eBay, as well as court-philosophers like Thomas Friedman Another world is possible: The Liberal Communists of Porto Davos ; Fascism can be defeated by rational argument (that’s why fascists hate intellectuals), by genuine democracy (that’s why they despise civil libertarians), by legal principle (that’s why they criticise independent judges), and by international conventions (that’s why they fulminate about the United Nations). They claim they are defending our way of life, or our civilisation, even while they are undermining its fundamental principles. All civilisations have tried to raise people above fascism, but the fight has to be had over and over again A fascist Australia?
• · · · · · Insurance companies could face jail sentences and fines of up to $165,000 if they require customers to use preferred repairers, under a bill introduced to State Parliament by Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay. Mr Torbay introduced the anti-steering bill into State Parliament on March 30, and said he had received strong support for the legislation from smash repairers across the State as well as industry groups like the Motor Traders Association. Torbay fights for drivers' right to choose repairers ; It is the greatest international scam in Australia's history. David Marr and Marian Wilkinson reveal the inside story on the wheat board kickbacks. Deceit by the truckload ; Each day this week we've been treated to another Dickensian tale from Australia's workplaces Amid apathy, a voice of sanity: What the Dickens will workers do?; Fear is probably the first human emotion that we experience and sadly, for some, if not many, it is also the last. Fear at work in the world

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No more pussyfooting around executive sallaries It is not so much which robbery style I liked more as which thief I hated less. This is the day light robbery that does want to go away. I have heard different assertions from various sources however none have ever explained the difference between someone stealing millions and someone stealing a bread because he is hungry. For example, stealing is certainly an act that is societally reprehensible, and yet we cannot put highly paid executives who steal millions from their companies on the same moral ground as someone stealing food from a supermarket because he is hungry. By the same token, criminals surely need to be dealt with by society Sticks beat carrots: Last bus from Barrannquero Bay

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Philanthropy: Hey, big spenders
Philanthropy is flourishing as the number of super-rich people keeps growing. But the new donors are becoming much more businesslike about the way their money is used.

As Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York said of wealth and philanthropy: "I like people to be public about their philanthropy; it makes it more competitive if we can see who is doing what."

• From Noble Lie to Pretext for Profit The business of giving: Pull the plug gently [In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies Lobbying Database ; Lobbyists spend $2 billion a year to influence Congress. Why so little? There's Not Enough Money in Politics ; Myths and Reality Ten lessons from the criminalization of dissent]
• · Why Should I Be Nice To You? There is no more precious commodity than the relationship of trust and confidence a company has with its employees Coffee Shops and the Politics of Good Service ; What kind of leader transforms a good company into a great company? When put to the test, high profile personalities come second to the steely determination of the quiet achiever. Building bridges for the future and showing that you care about your workers is a good start: being stand-offish or aloof won’t encourage staff to happily walk across your bridges. Follow The Leader: vision, courage and tenacity
• · · Villawood 'riddled' with absbestos: report ; Want to know a foolproof formula for keeping your best employees on board? It’s simple. Find and meet your employees’ key motivators. Meeting Key Motivators is the Best Retention Strategy ; To move up the ladder, it's important that your method of making decisions develops as you do How to Adjust Your Decision-Making Style
• · · · The news about our tax load is good and bad - depending on how you look at it, writes Ross Gittins One man's give is the other's take ; Kevin Panozza considers that there are eight enemies of employee engagement. These eight are uniformity, rule driven behaviour, grey colours, isolation, being taken for granted, being thrown in the deep end, lack of career opportunity and boredom and tedium. The culture of a company is no more than the sum of the individual attitudes of its employees... The culture of a company is no more than the sum of the individual attitudes of its employees... Engagement and its enemies ; Religion and enemies
• · · · · The catalogue of poor decision practices is immense, but we focus here on three of the most common and, in our experience, most harmful to companies. Three Myths of Management; Becoming politically savvy is not always viewed as a wholesome, worthy goal. The mere mention of the word "politics" triggers negative connotations How Smart Women Win at Office Politics
• · · · · · COMMENTS on the exposure draft are due by 5 May 2006 and can be submitted by email to or mailed to: The Manager, Tax Code Unit, Tax Design Division, The Treasury, Langton Crescent, PARKES ACT 2600. REPEAL OF OVER 4,100 PAGES OF TAX LEGISLATION: DRAFT LEGISLATION RELEASED ; 4100 tax pages go Peter takes legal axe to obsolete tax ; Andrew Mills FTIA, President Elect, Taxation Institute of Australia : Getting it right…. and keeping it right: NSW State Convention 2006 For more information or to register for the event contact Nicola on (02) 8223 0042, or email Tax law never stands still and neither can we ; We cannot make water out of nothing How Corrupt Is the United Nations? ; Why Tell the I.R.S. What It Already Knows?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Are you building your company reputation on "the rock," or on "the sand"? The birth of new agencies and new resources has been lifeblood for our industry Forbes 2000 on the world's largest, and most powerful, public companies The Companies That Rule the Roost

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: 'World' keeps on turning: Plea for tax crackdown
Most big foreign insurers marketing products in Australia such as Allianz, Zurich, American International Group and ACE, are authorised by APRA to operate in Australia and pay local taxes.

TWO of the country's largest insurers, QBE and Promina, have called on the Federal Government to overhaul tax rules applying to offshore rivals, claiming that some are not paying GST and a swathe of state duties.
The Insurance Access and Pricing Unit of Federal Treasury is reviewing the regulatory arrangements applying to offshore foreign insurers that are not supervised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

• We seek consistent collection of taxes from both local insurers and DOFIs wishing to write Australian risks National Insurance Brokers Association [What does not kill you makes you stronger: The new dark ages that are already upon us Insurance company merger woes finds IT solution ; It's a harsh reality that more industry sectors are more and more competitive, more brutal, in the battle for market share and brand equity Asteron appoints head of dealerships; My Finnish spies inform me that Caltex has lifted the lid on one of the worst kept secrets in Sydney - Promina is moving from 2 Market Street to 237 Kent Street ... Caltex, which was tipped to move into stage two of Multiplex's King Street Wharf development last year, before the space was occupied by American Express, is now rumoured to be moving to space at the Allianz centre at 2 Market Street, being vacated by Promina. Macquarie Office Trust and Allianz Australia co-own the building. Promina, I hear, has been sniffing around; and the Macquarie crew. They say a split of New Zealand and Australian operations has been contemplated for some time. This would be much to Sir Ronald's (Brierley of GPG: 20 per cent and long-suffering) liking There, but for the grace of ...]
• · People preparing for retirement have various tax-effective options to increase their super nest egg Strategy key in bridging super gap; Get the tax man off your back Super funds are the only way to go, advises Daryl Dixon How to put the tax demon well and truly to rest ; Dubner and Levitt on why Americans should be clamoring for the I.R.S. to do more audits Not fewer: Filling in the Tax Gap
• · · Mr Wilkins took home $2.76 million last year after his a base salary of $1.05 million was boosted by $1.21 million in cash bonuses, along with $455,332 in share-based payments Promina looks for growth by expansion ; The agencies that will succeed are the ones not frozen in the era of 30-second television commercials and can find the new ways to engage and connect with consumers Promina adds half a million customers
• · · · Asteron dealer group GuardianFP posted a 5.2 per cent increase in adviser numbers on December 31 last year over June 2005, and a 19.7 per cent for the 12 months from December 31, 2004. Promina profit jumps to $505m ; Tyndall, Asteron boost Promina result
• · · · · China vs India: the match of the century The epic 21st-century contest between the Chinese dragon and the Indian tiger is at the level of ideas as well as economies ; Are people victims of the media they watch or crafty exploiters of it? Grand Theft Auto
• · · · · · An article on how to be a lobbyist without trying A personal journey into Washington's culture of greed ; Separating the winners from the losers is harder than one might think: It was no joke, in those days, to pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to either the revolutionary or the counter-revolutionary cause. Yet without this suffering, America would never have been born Wins, Losses, and Libertarian Ideas ; The price of democracy in Australia is about to rise, becoming out of reach for many Australians The price of democracy; Federal Parliament is to debate a law this week that conjures up modern-day images of Big Brother. Someone else might be listening; Neville Wran: Democracy not ours to export

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

There is a famous tax case where a judge used the analogy of a tree to explain the difference between capital and income. The capital is like the tree and the income is the fruit. In a country where tax planning is almost as important as the resources sector, losing money is not always a bad thing. So when ABC Learning Centres said earlier in the month that it was taking over its smaller rival, Kids Campus, Melbourne operative Geoff Lord should have been pretty happy. Australian Financial Review, 24/03/2006, Market Wrap, page 52 Lord's light shining a little more brightly

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: True blue Australian spirit
Courtesy of Margaret Lake:

I am not often givent o surges of patriotism but events of recent days have caused my heart to swell with national pride - and it has nothing to do with our medal haul in Melbourne. True courage and character are revealed in the face of adversity and that is exactly what we have seen from the people of North Queensland and many other Australians this week.

• Carolyn Tucker Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore) [This database assists in the efficient exchange of information by providing links to publicly available websites that contain information that might often be requested by competent authorities - Aussies and Bohemians - Database of public websites relevant to Competent Authorities ; The NSW opposition is again calling on the government to honour its commitment to the GST agreement by cutting business taxes to kickstart the state's economy. Iemma 'must cut business tax ]
• · AWB's no-pay-no-grain scandal should be sending chills into board- rooms across Australia. Blurred lines encourage companies to align morality with tax deductibility ; The share of national income captured by Australia's wealthiest individuals has leapt to its highest since the Korean War So, it is the rich what gets the pleasure
• · · The FBI and CIA were very concerned with the outsourcing of year 2000 work offshore because there was no easy way to control or prevent backdoors, malicious code or other opportunities for computer criminal activity in such practices. (ATO offshoring close, March 9) To provide such an opportunity to overworked and underpaid programmers in these offshoring countries, where there have been a number of reported white-collar criminal issues related to outsourcing, is an operational risk far too serious to consider in regard to something as sensitive as tax systems. Too touchy for tax ; Why "Get Rich Quick" will only ever cost you money
• · · · AUSTRALIANS who declare an income of zero are spending more on their tax affairs than the average worker, suggesting they are exploiting the tax system by using loopholes and legitimate financial structures Taxation's park bench mark attacked ; By John Wasiliev: The Australian Financial Review. Page 28. The Australian Securities & Investments Commission says promoters of illegal superannuation access schemes target vulnerable people. In many cases these same people are legally entitled to gain early access to their savings anyway. Executive director of consumer protection, Greg Tanzer, says promoters deliberately use people's ignorance of superannuation rules so they can earn exorbitant commissions. Fund members in severe financial distress can gain access to some of their savings by applying to the fund trustee. Money can also be released on compassionate grounds and for medical treatment Early access to funds is possible - 22/03/2006
• · · · · It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a government in possession of a healthy surplus, must be in want of a tax cut. The difficulty for the Howard government is persuading Australians that a surplus -- estimated to be as large as $15 billion this financial year -- does not equal an over-taxed population. Australian Financial Review, 25/03/2006, There's politics in tax ; I idolize Warren Buffett. The investment legend is unafraid to stick to his convictions, regardless of how unpalatable they may be at a given moment. When United States investment legend Warren Buffett says he is worried, the rest of us ought to be hearing alarm bells. Buffett, arguably the world's best known share investor, is worried about costs - "frictional costs" that threaten to dramatically lower investor's returns in the future. Our miracle economy is running out of spark.
• · · · · · Freedoms at risk as banks forced to act ; Why the biggest beneficiaries of globalization may be pimps, drug runners and other crooks. Merchants of Mayhem ; There are ... Merchants of Mayhem... : Consider these disparate and disturbing facts from Illicit, a new book by Moisés Naím Unsecured nuclear material ...

Friday, March 24, 2006

In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.
- Isaac Asimov, "Foundation and Empire"

My blog is worth $16,936.20.
How much is your blog worth?

Find out how much is your media dragon worth Inspired by Tristan Louis's research into the value of each link to Weblogs Inc

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Andrew Tink like very few politicians demonstrated that his electorate, his constituency, his Sydney and the world could trust him. His advice and counsel were sought throughout his parliamentary life because the principles that motivated him are universally respected: decency, humility, compassion and dedication. Andrew Tink knows well that politics should be the most honorable profession in a free society. Jean Jacques Rousseau, 18th-century French philosopher, expressed this warning almost 250 years ago: "As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than their persons, the State is not far from its fall." Civility is caring for our society without wanting to control it or profit by it. That's the art of politics. Tink, who has made himself almost a lone Australian expert on Lord Sydney through painstaking archive searches, recounts his hero's achievements and the part they played in the history of the English speaking world. I will never forget Andrew’s leadership at the Public Accounts Committee. Andrew even helped out with washing the dishes at night ;-) It is a double honor to keep in touch with Andrew after I left Parliament. The world of politics is without any doubt the corner stone of our very existence ... Never, ever will it be said that Andrew Tink lost his political vision

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: My former Chairman and Liberal stalwart Tink bows out
Senior NSW Liberal MP Andrew Tink has announced he will retire from politics at the next election, saying he has recently found himself off the pace and increasingly testy with other people.

The opposition's legal affairs spokesman will not contest his northern Sydney seat of Epping at the next election.
He will stand down as a member of the opposition frontbench immediately. The 52-year-old former barrister, who is one of the hardest-working opposition MPs, said he had decided he could not commit to another four years in state parliament. I'll certainly miss the chainsaw voice of Mr Tink with his points of order

• Off pace and increasingly testy: I'll miss Tink: Iemma [Goodbye … Andrew Tink greets Michael Egan Stress strikes - and another political career goes west ; Thankfully, Andrew Tink is still around to inject some grunt into the bearpit Joker in the pack ]
• · In a court of law whoever tells the best story wins. The fact is a very simple one: we live in a story-driven world. Andrew has many amazing stories respected by all sides of politics. LIKE Othello, NSW Liberal MP Andrew Tink -- the Opposition's able and energetic legal affairs spokesman -- has "given the state some service". But unlike Othello, Mr Tink -- who has announced his intention not to seek re-election as the member for Epping next year -- has nothing to reproach himself for, during his time in office. As one of the Opposition's brightest -- perhaps the brightest -- performers, Mr Tink gave his party much-needed substance and intellect, and his absence will leave a gap which his party will find difficult to fill. The Opposition's brightest Othello; Andrew Tink MP
• · · The Book Andrew will write Towshend puts Lord Sydney in shadows ; List of famous Old Sydneians
• · · · Senate Clerk Harry Evans charts the stagnant waters of Parliamentary reform and outlines an agenda for future change. Evans says the current government, like all governments, would rather control parliaments than be made accountable to them. He calls for constitutional, legislative, and institutional reform to allow parliaments to better fulfil their obligations to the public Parliamentary Reform ; Male MPs barred at lawn party Male MPs in the NSW Parliament are seething over a decision to stop them from attending the International Women's Day celebrations on the lawns of Government House They are bleak, but not that bleak ; The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of man. Childless, middle-aged couples may regret the life choices that ended their family lines. Yet they have no children with whom to share their newfound wisdom. Hit, hit me
• · · · · Rewarding public servants who cut red tape and a "one in, one out" strategy for Government regulation are the centrepiece recommendations of the Australian Business Limited (ABL)/State Chamber plan to slash red tape in NSW submitted to the NSW Government. Another recommendation is that a uniform definition of "wages" be developed for payroll tax, income tax and workers compensation liability within and between States and Territories. Chief Executive of ABL/State Chamber Mark Bethwaite said the 2005 Red Tape Register found that the average NSW business was spending 200 hours a year filling in paperwork required by Government departments. Cutting Red Tape In Nsw - Uniform "Wages" Definition Sought ; Political Humor ; Wonkette Politics for People with Dirty Minds
• · · · · · Three years on: the tragedy of the Iraq invasion is that there won't be another ; No need to back pointless studies ; Michigan political blogs cover the spectrum

Thursday, March 16, 2006

“I never imagined I would live to see the day when the United States and its satellites would use precisely the same arguments that the apartheid government used for detention without trial. It is disgraceful ... One cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted.”
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
quoted in “Blair Calls Camp in Cuba an ‘Anomaly,’”
New York Times, Feb. 18, 2006

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
- Clarence Darrow

Until quite recently, the history of nineteenth-century sexuality was one of total repression. As the excesses of the aristocracy gave way to the domination of the bourgeoisie, women, it was argued, became cloistered and corseted, while men--when they were not whoring after the double standard--were stuffy, inflexible patriarchs. Today women's sexual behavior is more like men's than ever before in human history No Sex Please, My Mother was British!

If you are not a Media Dragon reader, a human rights activist, or otherwise obsessed with Middle East and Otoman empire, you can be forgiven for not having fisking on the tip of your tongue. 2006 is the centenary year of the philosopher Hannah Arend Fear and loathing set in: Politics and cosmopolitics

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: See! He beat me!
If the oases are destroyed by sandstorms or an excluding world, there are still watering-holes to keep mind and soul together.

As Arendt points out: the oases exist free of political relations. What went wrong was the politics, our pluralistic existence and not what we can do or create as individuals: the isolation of the scientist and the artist, the intrinsic, world-less relations between people as it exists in love and, in some cases, friendship. When one heart reaches out to another, like in friendship, or when the world around them goes up in flames, like in love. Without the preservation of the oases, we would not know how to breathe

Islands in the Net [As Kierkegaard has a character say in Either/Or, "The smallest of causes can bring about the greatest of effects." No Two Alike ; The woman responsible for picking which books are sold by Tesco, considered one of the most powerful posts in the publishing world, has left the British supermarkets chain to join HarperCollins. Supermarket chains now wield immense power in the publishing industry, selling books at deep discounts to lure shoppers -- to the great consternation of publishers and independent stores -- and heavily influence which authors become bestsellers Tesco's book maven heading to HarperCollins]
• · Lulu gets bigger; Rich Aussies get richer
• · · Does an international search for justice hurt or help the pursuit of peace? Bringing the wicked to the dock ; A man takes a woman home. Before long, he takes home another. Then he adds a third, or even a fourth love interest, flitting between them on a whim and as his workload allows. Each jostles for his attention, dealing with the knowledge she's not the only one. A scene from a 19th-century Mormon community? Or Memoirs of a Geisha where a woman might receive a kimono for her kind understanding? Try Sydney 2006. With gender ratios out of balance, Thirroul's Sydney based Barranqueros have never had it so good ; The living things that did not have the knack to deceive or that had less ability to lie died of starvation or by being eaten. They did not survive to reproduce, more than those who possessed the quality to lie and had a better chance of multiplying. Thus, evolution produced the best corporate liars Why we lie
• · · · These people who line their pockets with the lives of our loved ones? the big dark .....; Beyond Left and Right: Frank Furedi’s “Politics of Fear" ; Do we really live in an age of accountability? Ten years of Accountable Government?
• · · · · Consider Alexander Pope’s famous aphorism from his 1735 “An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot” about the tonic effect of the dimpled smile: “Eternal smiles his emptiness betray, as shallow streams run dimpling all the way ... At least I know what I am trying to do, which is to live deliberately without roots. I would put it like this. America may break one completely, but the best of which one is capable is more likely to be drawn out of one here more than anywhere else.” W.H. Auden Federal Court Secrecy
• · · · · · Australia’s Daily Telegraph used school records to show that public school teachers took almost 390,000 sick days last year Australia Teacher Sick Days ; Deborah Howlett of the Newark Star-Ledger used legislative and county records to find that 42 of the 120 [state] lawmakers have two — or three — elected or tax-paid positions New Jersey Legislative Double-Dipping

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The great lesson from the collapse of communism is that complex modern societies can't be governed according to a single principle. The capitalist-socialist hybrid is messy, but it has proved durable because it reflects the two drivers of human economic behaviour, competition and co-operation. We don't need to invent a new guiding principle. We do need to rethink the role of the state in light of the fundamental changes in our society over recent decades. Mark Bahnisch of Larvatus Prodeo knows how to stir Chris Sheil and Jason Soon ;-) Reinventing Government and The Third Way

Eye on Politics & Taxes: Melting Pot's chance
The anti-Muslim sentiment voiced in recent months echoes the rhetoric of an earlier time, writes Emily Maguire.

Responding to Peter Costello's recent comments about Muslims in Australia, the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, accused the federal Treasurer of "trying to appeal back to the 1950s". Beattie would have been just as correct if he'd said the 185. This month, 155 years ago, a group of Chinese immigrants working at Long Pocket, near Ipswich, were attacked by their white co-workers.

When leaders stoop to politics of fear [Like those old jokes about Chinese food never quite being enough so you have to keep going back and having another helping, tax reform always seems to offer more political benefit than it ever manages to deliver. And once one round of reform is completed, it's not long before someone somewhere is calling for more and that single voice eventually becomes a chorus. The Howard Government, despite its reformist credentials, has tended to shy away from taxation reform. Few would argue that the current system is a model of fairness and equity, or that reform would not yield substantial economic benefit for all Australians. Equity and reward must be the goals in tax reform; The High Court ruled today that property and shares made available to the wife of a barrister who did not pay tax for almost 40 years should be made available to trustees acting for his creditors High Court rules against tax-dodge lawyer ]
• · Taking corporate social responsibility seriously Is CSR A-OK? ; Althusser and Foucault on Machiavelli's Political Technique. If the beatific smile of a child signals innocent sincerity, adult life is cloaked with masks and disguises. It cannot be a Real Person, a Concrete Individual ; Newly retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took on conservative Republican critics of the courts in a speech Thursday. She told an audience at Georgetown University that Republican proposals, and their sometimes uncivil tone, pose a danger to the independence of the judiciary, and the freedoms of all Americans O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts
• · · Democracy & political naiveté,; We've smashed the Cambodian stack, the Vietnamese and the Latin American stack Triumphant Crean challenges Beazley over factions ; All I can see is risks, the risk that selecting a person from a particular faction or indeed sub-faction or fraction is more important than getting the best possible candidate Cut factions' power, Gillard urges
• · · · Richard Pratt and Bob Carr have known each other for many years - Visy Carr in advisory role to packaging giant ; Local companies are developing intrapreneurship programs to cultivate corporate leaders and drive innovation The way up: kissing up - kicking down
• · · · · ANAO report said that the ATO has appropriate strategies to address targeted elements of the cash economy. Its strategic directions are risk-based, follow the expert advice of the Cash Economy Taskforce and are consistent with overseas approaches ANAO audit report on ATO's strategies to address the cash economy ; Australia's income tax law, now almost a century old, may be many hundreds of times thicker than it was when adopted in 1915, but it is difficult to argue that it is much better. What can be argued is that it represents little more than a collection of ad hoc, complex and knee-jerk political responses to nine decades of unresolved problems... Success and Challenges of Online Tax Filings Examined by Policy Expert In general, citizen satisfaction levels with online filing have been quite high. The Case of Online Tax Filing ;
• · · · · · Asteron general manager sales and distribution Peter Jowett says advisers using Wealthstar will benefit from a single application form for both personal super and life insurance. Asteron takes risk in new platform ; What if there were a funeral for Asteron and nobody came? ; Kosmix a new search engine for Health, Politics, Travel