Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why, oh why, has no one called the victory of Evo Morales a revolution, despite it sharing some of the characteristics of the "coloured revolutions" in post-Soviet countries? Roses, oranges... and coca

When I was young (yup, this is mostly a Grumpy Old Men column), no one cared about superannuation reforms. Today small superannuation funds want more reform of the Australian superannuation industry. Virgin Money says that large funds are making it difficult for members to exercise their right to change funds. It claims that members are being misinformed and the process of change is being made difficult. Industry Fund Services is critical of some eligible rollover funds. A survey shows that most of these funds make little return after fees. Both funds have called for more changes to super legislation Virgin Money CEO, Rohan Gamble and others, believe that many consumers have been misinformed about changeover processes by groups such as Promina, Asteron, AMP, Colonial First State, Recruitment Super and Rest Super. Watchdog readies probe on super choice dirty tricks You bullies say funds - ASIC to break super chain

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Health ties: Australia and New Zealand Health Policy
Developments in Australian general practice 2000-2002: what did these contribute to a well functioning and comprehensive Primary Health Care System?

In recent years, national and state/territory governments have undertaken an increasing number of initiatives to improve links between general practice and the rest of the primary health care sector. This paper reviews how far these initiatives have contributed to a well functioning and comprehensive primary health care system during the period 2000–02

Primary Health Care System [Jeff McMullen, chair of the Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth which is involved in improving educational and health outcomes, explains how literacy can mean life in remote Aboriginal communities When literacy can mean life ; Australian local democracy: past to present ; The personal is political. What is it that makes life livable? And why should life be bearable in some nations but not in others? Unlike Sigmund Freud, I do not think mankind suffers from a universal death wish, any more than it benefits from a universal instinct for self-preservation. Some people have a death wish, and others don't. The devil's sourdough and the decline of nations]
• · An interview with George Soros on the global movement for an ‘open society’. Soros on opening up closed societies ; From Parliament to sporting fields, the ethic of "whatever it takes" rules Packer, ANI and the ethics of corporate secrecy ; Only a meaner nation could turn Kerry into a saint ; An investigation into the private and public finances of Rick Santorum Might want to reconsider becoming the ethics czar
• · · Middle-class snout in Treasurer's trough - Herald Sun (Melbourne), 21/02/2006, John Beveridge - Peter Costello must love this time of year. Every man and his dog comes up with sensationally unsustainable ideas about how the budget surplus should be spent He's in a win-win situation; Spy agencies and police across Australia may soon be given powers, for the first time, to monitor the phone calls, email and text messages of people not suspected of any crime. The power to spy on terrorism and serious crime suspects already exists Big Brother says hello ; Heads roll in Machiavellian mystery
• · · · Is there any smart tax or treasury officer who is not sallary sacrificed or negatively geared? I seriously doubt it ;-) By Peter Cerexhe. Smartinvestor, 01/03/2006, If you are well read about the tricks of running a property investment or have attended any of those become a millionaire through property' seminars, you may have picked up on the strategy of seeking a cut in the tax taken out of your wages by your employer. The idea is that since you are going to get a large tax refund or tax credit at the end of the year (because you're bleeding through your negative gearing), the Australian Taxation Office may as well let you get the tax benefit week by week instead Tax refund: now or later ; Does the High Court disagree more often in constitutional cases? ; Abolishing income tax returns could save the economy $3 billion in lost productivity and give most people the equivalent of an extra public holiday a year. Economist urges scrapping of annual income tax returns
• · · · · Bill Clinton: Now everyone can make a difference Power to the people; Police Cameras in Your Home
• · · · · · Receiving almost no corporate media coverage, a Senate committee recommended on January 31 the passage of a bill that will make it easier for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to police and shoot civilians. The powers go well beyond dealing with a terrorist threat and in important respects put the military above state criminal laws New shoot to kill powers: Da Capital Iron Curtain in the making? ; From depression to freedom

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Australian Master Tax Guide by CCH is likely to become compulsory reading for one and all State MP before the State Election of March 2007 AD.

Revenue Sharing: The GST Experiment circa 2007 AD
Bohemians, Iron Curtain Breakers and other mischief makers have long recognised that the study of Australian tax law is an exciting discipline. We should not use this guide as a cruch, but instead always look at it as the working tool to unlock the intricacies and complexities of Australian income tax law and practice.

The Commonwealth Parliament derives its power to enact income tax legislation from the Constitution; at the same time, the Constitution imposes restrictions on this legislative power. The empowering provision is s 51(ii) by which the parliament has, subject to the Constitution, "power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to ... (ii) Taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States''. Other relevant provisions in the Constitution are s 53, 55, 99, 114 and 117.


Section 51(ii) of the Constitution expressly prohibits any federal tax which discriminates between states or parts of states. In addition, s 99 of the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth shall not by any law or regulation of trade, commerce or revenue, give preference to any one state or any part of it over another state or any part of it.

The High Court has held that a regulation providing for the different valuation of live stock for different states violated s 51(ii) (Cameron (1923) 32 CLR 68; R & McG 40), but that an Act which imposed stamp duty in respect of Commonwealth places did not, even though the scheme of the Act might produce differences in revenue outcomes between states (Permanent Trustee 2004 ATC 4996)


A necessary part of the 1942 uniform tax system was the sharing of revenue by the Commonwealth with the states. In the post-war period, a complex revenue sharing system has been developed to deal with what is known as "vertical fiscal imbalance'', ie the significant difference between the relative revenue and expenditure responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the states. Commonwealth funding assistance to the states takes two primary forms: specific purpose payments (sometimes referred to as "tied grants'') and general revenue assistance.

The allocation of general revenue assistance to individual states is made on the basis of a formula recommended by an independent statutory body, the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The formula used by the Commission does not result in a simple per capita allocation. The Commission uses "horizontal fiscal equalisation'' principles, which recognise that certain "donor'' states (such as NSW and Victoria) have greater relative revenue capacities and/or less significant expenditure disabilities than the other states. It should be noted that, while the Commonwealth cannot discriminate between states in levying income tax, effective discrimination may be achieved in the distribution of money under the revenue sharing arrangements (WR Moran (1940) AC 838; 63 CLR 338; 5 ATD 416).

At the request of the states, the Commonwealth introduced legislation in 1998 to protect the states' tax base from any potential erosion resulting from the Allders International 96 ATC 5135 decision (1-080). The legislation provides for "mirroring'' of stamp duty, pay-roll tax, financial institutions duty, bank account debits tax and any other state taxes that may become at risk, and the return to the states of any revenue collected through the mirror legislation. The validity of the Commonwealth Places (Mirror Taxes) Act 1998 was upheld by the High Court in Permanent Trustee 2004 ATC 4996.

The commencement of GST on 1 July 2000 caused radical changes to Commonwealth/state revenue sharing. GST revenue collected by the Commonwealth is channelled to the states and territories, in return for their agreeing to abolish certain taxes and charges (1-115). The distribution of GST revenue is also conditional on the states applying horizontal fiscal equalisation principles. The Commission continues to determine the equalisation formula and also proposes an equitable allocation of GST revenue. The allocation reflects the capabilities and needs of each state, as well as the fact that not all states levy the whole range of taxes to be eliminated.

For the valid exercise of power under s 51(ii) of the Constitution, the legislation in substance must be "with respect to ... Taxation''. When is a law one which deals in substance with taxation? The High Court of Australia has not laid down a definitive test of what is "taxation'' for the purposes of the section. In one important case, however, Menzies J said that the court would not look at the economic consequences of legislation or even the motives of the parliament in determining whether or not legislation dealt with taxation. The key criterion was to look at the "true character'' of the legislation and to see if its true character was one dealing with taxation (Fairfax (1965) 14 ATD 135). In concluding that the Acts which made up the FBT legislation were laws with respect to taxation, the High Court noted that it did not matter that the legislation may be intended to achieve some other purpose such as discouraging the provision of fringe benefits ( State Chamber of Commerce and Industry v Commonwealth of Australia 87 ATC 4745).

In Giris 69 ATC 4015, the taxpayer challenged the constitutional validity of ITAA36 s 99 and 99A which, at the relevant time, gave the Commissioner a wide discretion in taxing certain income of trust estates. The High Court rejected an argument that the discretion conferred by those sections contained such an element of uncertainty that they could not be regarded as valid laws with respect to taxation.

The revenue received by the states and territories from the Commonwealth under the revenue sharing system is insufficient to pay for their basic spending requirements. Consequently, the states and territories have traditionally relied on a variety of taxes and duties to raise additional revenue, in particular stamp duty, pay-roll tax, land tax and business franchise licence fees imposed on tobacco, alcohol and petrol.

In Ha & Hammond 97 ATC 4674, a majority of the High Court (4:3) held that business franchise licence fees imposed by New South Wales on tobacco were in reality excise duties and were constitutionally invalid (under s 90 of the Constitution, only the Commonwealth has the power to levy "duties of excise''). By implication, this meant that similar business franchise licence fees imposed by the states and territories on alcohol and petrol were also constitutionally invalid. To minimise the potentially serious impact on state and territory revenues, the federal government increased the rate of duty imposed by the Commonwealth on tobacco, alcohol and petrol and returned the additional revenue raised to the states and territories (less the Commonwealth's administration costs).

These arrangements ceased when the GST commenced on 1 July 2000 and the states and territories were required to progressively eliminate certain state taxes (and the federal government eliminate wholesale sales tax). In return, GST revenue collected by the Commonwealth would be channelled to the states and territories. State taxes such as financial institutions duty, debits tax, "bed taxes'' and stamp duty on listed marketable securities have now been abolished, with the remaining business stamp duties (eg on credit and rental arrangements, leases and mortgages) to be phased out by 2010/11.

This is the case that got me hooked on the complexities of tax laws as at the time of this judgement I was the Clerk to the Public Accounts Committee who was on long service leave in Prague. On my return in September 1997 Michael Egan, the State Treasurer at the time, made sure I read it back to front and up side down inside out ;-)

Full High Court, 5 August 1997

Constitutional law - Duties of excise - Exclusive power of Commonwealth Parliament - New South Wales law imposing licence fees on retail and wholesale sale of tobacco - Fees calculated upon basis of tobacco sold in an earlier monthly period - Assessments issued in respect of unpaid licence fees - Whether fees or amounts payable duties of excise - Whether duties of excise are confined to taxes which fall selectively on locally produced and manufactured goods - Whether fees or amounts payable merely fees for licences to carry on business - Business Franchise Licences (Tobacco) Act 1987 (NSW), sec 41 - The Constitution (under cl 9 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901) sec 90.

The two plaintiffs in the first action conducted a duty free store in suburban Sydney and sold, by retail, tobacco products to the public. Neither held a retailer's licence under the Business Franchise Licences (Tobacco) Act 1987 (NSW) ("the Act"). The plaintiff in the second action carried on the business of selling tobacco for resale in New South Wales and appeared to have held a wholesaler's licence at the relevant time.

Under the Act, each of the plaintiffs was prohibited under penalty from selling tobacco, whether by wholesale or retail, without a licence. Licences were issued on application, for periods of not more than a month. The fee payable for a retail or wholesale licence under sec 41 of the Act was a specified percentage of the value of the tobacco sold by the applicant for the licence in an earlier monthly period (from June 1995 onwards the specified percentage was 100%). The penalty imposed for selling tobacco without a licence was the licence fee which would otherwise have been payable by the holder of a licence plus a penalty of twice that amount.

The Chief Commissioner for Business Franchise Licences (Tobacco) in New South Wales issued notices of assessment to the plaintiffs in the first action claiming over $2m under the Act. A notice claiming over $20m was issued to the plaintiff in the second action.

The plaintiffs contended that the provisions of the Act which purported to impose a liability to pay the amounts claimed by the Commissioner and calculated in accordance with sec 41 were duties of excise which New South Wales was not empowered to impose. Under sec 90 of the Constitution, the Federal Parliament has the exclusive power to impose duties of customs and of excise.
The State of New South Wales, with the support of all the other States and Territories, who intervened, submitted that the fees to be paid for licences and the amounts payable by those who sold tobacco without a licence were not duties of excise within sec 90 of the Constitution for either of two reasons:

(1) the Act did not prescribe production or manufacture of tobacco within Australia to be a "discrimen of liability". It was submitted that so long as the tax was imposed on the sale of tobacco generally, it could not be said to be a tax on the production or manufacture of tobacco in Australia and therefore could not be said to be a duty of excise; and

(2) the imposts were merely fees for a licence to carry on the business of selling tobacco and were not a tax on the tobacco sold.

Held (by majority): the relevant provisions of the Act were invalid as imposing a duty or duties of excise within the meaning of sec 90 of the Constitution.

Per Brennan CJ, McHugh, Gummow and Kirby JJ
1. It was clear that an objective of the movement to Federation was "inter-colonial free trade on the basis of a uniform tariff". That objective could not have been achieved if the States had retained the power to place a tax on goods within their borders. The States yielded up and the Commonwealth acquired to the exclusion of the States the powers to impose taxes on goods which, if applied differentially from State to State, would necessarily impair the free trade in those goods throughout the Commonwealth. If accepted, the defendants submission would frustrate whatever purpose might be attributed to sec 90.

2. Duties of excise are taxes on the production, manufacture, sale or distribution of goods, whether of foreign or domestic origin. Duties of excise are inland taxes in contradistinction from duties of customs which are taxes on the importation of goods. Both are taxes on goods, that is to say, they are taxes on some step taken in dealing with goods. Parton v Milk Board (Vic) (1949) 80 CLR 229 applied.

3. Alcohol and tobacco were commodities which could not be placed in a special category for sec 90 purposes. Philip Morris Ltd v Commissioner of Business Franchises (Vic) (1989) 167 CLR 399 and Coastace Pty Ltd v New South Wales (1989) 167 CLR 503 overruled.

4. An amount equal to 75 or 100 per cent of the value of tobacco sold during a relevant period is levied by the Act. That amount could not conceivably be regarded as a mere fee for a licence required as an element in a scheme for regulatory control of businesses selling tobacco. The imposts which the Act purported to levy were manifestly duties of excise. The challenged provisions of the Act were beyond power.

5. Once a State tax imposed on the seller of goods and calculated on the value or quantity of goods sold cannot be characterised as a mere licence fee, the application of sec 90 must result in its invalidity.

Per Dawson, Toohey and Gaudron JJ (dissenting)
1. A duty of excise is a tax which falls selectively upon the local production or manufacture of goods. The purpose of making the power to impose excise duties exclusive to the Commonwealth was to prevent impairment by the States of the common external tariff. A tax upon the manufacture or production of goods increases the cost of those goods without effecting a corresponding increase in the cost of imported goods of the same kind. Any protection afforded by customs duties imposed upon the imported goods is thereby reduced. But a tax imposed upon a step in the distribution of goods which falls indiscriminately upon locally produced and imported goods does not have that effect.

2. In the present cases, the licence fees, regarded as taxes upon goods, fell indiscriminately upon tobacco products regardless of whether they were locally manufactured or produced or were imported.

Per curiam
1. The Court has no power to overrule cases prospectively.

Andrew Lumsden, a partner with legal firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, writes: Like Arthur’s knights, the Commonwealth Government has sent a taskforce off after the Holy Grail of “” alleviating the compliance burden on business from Commonwealth Government regulation

James Surowiecki wrote recently in The New Yorker poor regulations can and do have significant effects inflicting what economists call “social costs” on the economy as a whole. Look at the distortions caused in the builders’ insurance market by HIH’s unsustainable market practices. We accept that regulation has a role not just to punish fraud but to prevent it from happening in the first place and that in a lot of cases the law’s costs are a lot more visible than its benefits. It’s all a question of balance.

Sources: “A vow to cut red tape? It's just a pink elephant” Katey Lahey The Age 13/12/05 The Regulatory Balancing Act ; “The Regulatory Balancing Act” Senator Helen Coonan Address to the Financial Services Accountants Association Annual Conference 17 May 2004; Sarboxed In?

The World Bank Doing Business 2004 and 2005 ; reports on “Understanding Regulation” (PDF version) ; Office of Regulation Review Taskforce on Reducing the Regulatory Burden on Business; The Boardroom Report Volume 3, ; Issue 24, December 16th, 2005. One-stop-shop will cut red-tape burden says NIA 20/12/2005 ; AICD submission ; BCA submission ; Red tape reduction: long, bloody and fruitless quest or noble adventure?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why is it that we have enough memory to recollect the most minute circumstances of something that has happened to us, but not enough to remember how many times we have recounted them to the same person?
-La Rochefoucauld, Moral Maxims and Reflections

The Westminster system, under which ministers are responsible for wrongdoing by their departments, is dead in Australia The ground rules for when ministers' heads must roll

Eye on Politics & Taxes: Engineering democracy
Truly representative elections, lacking in even some advanced nations, are an essential first step

Much handwringing has resulted since Hamas, a group on the Bush administration's terrorist list, won a sizable majority of legislative seats in Palestinian Authority elections in January. But the planners of the recent elections there could have learned a thing or two from European election conventions, such as those in effect in the Czech Republic.

The proportional vote [Stolen pleasures Courier Mail, 21/02/2006, Good Life, Page 10
Author: Rory Gibson Why convict James Squire's head isn't featured on an Aussie banknote like other notable Australians is a national disgrace. If such an honour can be bestowed on the likes of Dame Nellie Melba, Banjo Paterson, Reverend John Flynn and Mary Reibey, then surely the man who produced the country's first commercial ale deserves a start. Income Tax Reform; Low fertility and the degrading of motherhood are class issues, which explains why the so called chattering classes are so concerned about them: it is the women of this class who are not having children or are leaving them in child care. As in all things, if it is happening to the chatterati then it matters to the nation … Oh No Children, We Forgot Motherhood, Did We? ]
• · In this article for Griffith Review 11 – Getting Smart: The Battle for Ideas in Education, Gavin Moodie argues that national strategies to expand education need to be more broadly based. Research to excellence ; Michael Evans fears the mysterious drawing power of the Bermuda Triangle MacMedia off to a tax haven ; Listen son, your problem is you believe in free enterprise and I don't Sherlock Holmes couldn't work out these deductions ; ATO outsources debt collection Australian Financial Review, 21/02/2006; Private companies will earn 12 to 18 per cent commissions under Australian Taxation Office plans to outsource debt collection from thousands of recalcitrant small businesses, according to Tax Office union officials Also ABC 2000: ATO outsources debt collection
• · · The Politics of Literature 101: Did Father Know Best?; Rankism -- still lies ahead, poisoning our minds and increasingly corrupting our interpersonal and political behaviors. If the right emphasizes liberty and the left equality, should the radical middle
emphasize dignity? The biggest barrier of all, rank abuse
• · · · Centrelink audit finds 1.5m dead customers ; It's independent, opinionated and always looking under rocks Crikey - a two-way conversation
• · · · · Shot property Bulletin with Newsweek, 28/02/2006 It's not as if there were not enough warnings. Something as simple as a Google search could have saved the homes and savings of thousands of investors who are confronted with losing everything in the $450m-plus Westpoint property debacle; Long ago the Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, said those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them Abolishing negative gearing a recipe for disaster ; The silly season is over and a new year brings a new boss for Australian Customs - along with new challenges. Carmody's choice
• · · · · · Age, 21/02/2006, Keith McEwan Letters, Page 10 - How much longer will we continue with the fiscal vandalism of negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions to housing investors (resulting in a $2.6 billion revenue loss to the Government in the 2003-04 financial year)? This has been the main cause of house prices doubling in recent years, denying people who are not home owners the opportunity to join the 70 per cent of those who have achieved this goal. Overpriced and over here: Housing affordability; A royal commissioner does not make an allegation - far less does he initiate prosecutions. What he does is investigate and report to government on his investigations. A royal commissioner is charged with high office, to investigate without fear or favour, no matter how wealthy a person may be, or how influential he is Costigan hits back at Packer 'ignorance' - Costigan rejects Packer's barb

Monday, February 20, 2006

The hippies, claimed economist Andrew Oswald recently, are having their quiet revenge on how money doesn't make people happy But marriage, sex, socializing and even middle age do

Daniel Gilbert Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Sausage? and how money can't make you happy, but making the right comparisons can; when it comes money and happiness, economists and psychologists have got it all wrong; why don't men love women with money? Arianna Huffington finds out; does money make you more attractive? Dan Savage investigates an article on the economics of prostitution; neuroscientists are poking holes in old-fashioned economics; and much more.

Eye on Politics & Taxes: Olympics are a sporting bacchanalia
During the Olympics, the mirror neurons of whole nations will be electrically identical

At about the same time that Homer invented the epic hero, the Greeks started a religious festival dedicated to Zeus. The Gods, they decided, might like to see the human form in motion. Naked men competed in a single race, 200 yards long. The winner received a branch of wild olives. The Greeks called this celebration the Olympics

To Tiger Woods [And yes, Soviet Communism is just getting started. Will Wilkinson on solidarity: More than a feeling. Solidarity: More Than a Feeling ; Think again. Communism isn't an ideology but a religion; like Christianity it has its saints, its scriptures, and its iconography Manifesto for the dawn of communism ]
• · The sad fact of political science is that politics trumps economics—and always will, unfortunately Politics Trumps Economics? ; THERE is a growing perception that company directors and executives are self-interested actors, using their positions to pursue their own ends rather than what is best for the company and its shareholders. Positive thinking to beat bad apples
• · · Pricing Corruption ; What will it take to wake us up to the ever-tightening grip of oligopolies over ever more of our global marketplaces? Wake Up To Old-Fashioned Power of New Oligopolies
• · · · THE Reserve Bank has thrown its weight behind the NSW campaign to claw back billions of dollars in GST siphoned each year to other states, because the NSW economy "has fallen behind the pack" NSW is getting ripped off: Iemma ; Anyone who thinks that the federal income tax code is baffling now ought to brace for what lies ahead: big changes and uncertainty Cracking the Tax Code; And you have $1. How should you spend it to do the most good? Bang for Your Buck
• · · · · On the 20th anniversary of Perestroika, a rare book appears: Marx and Russia. Still no history of Marxism written in Russia ; The emerging Cold War on Asia's high seas ; The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies
• · · · · · Australia's top spies were in the dark about the Iraqi wheat bribes scandal, the government said on Sunday, as it continued to deny knowledge of kickbacks by wheat exporter AWB Ltd. Spies in the dark about AWB bribes ; On how the Western democracies, so keen on exporting their political model to the rest of the world, seem to be perfecting the art of shooting themselves in the foot. In the name of democracy ; Seven Questions: Domestic Spying ; Who love to spy on whom in the world community Who Do You Love?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Unfortunately, I announce my client won't be answering bail, he was murdered last night Murder stops underworld trial

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The myths about shared parenting
On the face of it, such sensible proposals might be expected to meet with universal acceptance. Indeed, the average citizen might even be moved to congratulate a government on such family-friendly initiatives.

The Federal Government tables significant changes to the Family Law Act with a view to encouraging both parents after divorce to share parenting of their children. At the same time, the government announces that $400 million will be spent in setting up 65 family relationship centres across the country for the purpose of counselling couples with relationship problems and, if they decide to separate, to assist them to manage the aftermath in a sensible manner.

Little more than a mirage: A triumph of style over substance [Has history teaching fallen victim to a politically correct, new-age approach to curriculum and are students receiving a fragmented understanding of the past? Why our greatest story is just not being told ; The cost is trivial, the gain is great Achieving a world free from want ; Personal wealth is all relative, especially in a world of virtual finance and credit ratings Want to be rich? Ask for a billion-dollar loan ]
• · Battling for political power is, to men and women of a certain temperament From loss to ideas to power ; Economics - Fred Argy - posted 27/1/2006 Joblessness and income inequality: has Australia taken the wrong turn? Victors, as Winston Churchill knew, not only write the history, they define the terms of justice. Today, with Saddam Hussein in the dock, the moral complexities of trying war criminals haven't gone away. Spoils of war
• · · The New Corporate Outsourcing Big Business has learned how to love Big Government ; Debnam repeats promise to rein in DPP
• · · · Calling the new tax commissioner to account ;
Taxing and spending, if it’s done carefully, is no bad thing, writes Nicholas Gruen What’s wrong with churning?
• · · · · Make poverty history: tackle corruption ; Immaterial Labour is seen by (post)Marxists and capitalists alike as the motor of the new economy Reality check: Are We Living In An Immaterial World? ; Ending the divorce between loyalty and family law would bring the law into line with rightly held moral standards. It would also lead to fairer property divisions and probably result in fewer divorces Time to end the divorce between loyalty and the family law
• · · · · · Centralising regulation does not always deliver the best results, argues John Quiggin Benefits of diversity ; The AWB oil-for-food scandal continues to build daily, going from bad to worse for the Howard Government. National watchdog is needed

Monday, February 06, 2006

“We all drew on the comfort which is given out by the major works of Mozart, which is as real and material as the warmth given up by a glass of brandy."
-Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

Am I a breath of fresh air, in slow motion? Our dragons started digging up records, knocking on doors, and reaching out to trusted sources. Ultimately, however, we had too many unanswered questions and decided not to publish a story. Sparing Media dragons ... CHEERS to fighting the good intentions and fight: Confidential Sources

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Reaching for Power: There can be no rights in a democracy
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight--
Got to kick at the darkness `til it bleeds daylight

Max Weber described politics as
a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth--that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word.

• Even when people are satisfied, there is much left to do. Institutions must achieve the moral education of the citizens. By respecting their individual rights, securing their independence, refraining from troubling their work, they must nevertheless consecrate their influence over public affairs, call them to contribute by their votes to the exercise of power, grant them a right of control and supervision by expressing their opinions; and, by forming them through practice for these elevated functions, give them both the desire and the right to discharge these. The False Hope of Democracy [Full-fledged corporatism, as a system for organizing the formulation and implementation of economic policies Quasi-Corporatism: America’s Homegrown Fascism ; The introduction to David Runciman's The Politics of Good Intentions: History, Fear and Hypocrisy in the New World Order Did September 11, 2001, really change the world? ]
• · Recorded rates of assault and sexual assault in NSW have more than doubled in the past 15 years Sexual assault rates more than double ; AUSTRALIA'S biggest cities have become less affordable over the past year - tell me about it ;-PPPSydney pays for rise up world rankings
• · · The year 2006 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Hannah Arendt, one of the most prominent public intellectuals of the twentieth century ... It is appropriate to recall Hannah Arendt's contributions to Jewish politics and peace in the Middle East What the world outside saw; The New Geopolitics of Empire Australia, put simply, there are two types of Bill of Rights - a legislative model and a constitutional model. What price for a Bill of Rights?
• · · · Threaten One, Intimidate a Million: After provoking outrage in the Muslim world by publishing offensive cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, A couple of simple caricatures ; A Danish newspaper has apologized as the extent of the anger continued to mushroom. Denmark's Cartoon Jihad
• · · · · Kick me, I'm a Democrat: Michael Kinsley on the games politicians play. When Republicans lose elections, it is because they didn't get enough votes. When Democrats lose elections, it is because they have lost their principles and lost their way. Or they have kept their principles, which is an even worse mistake Everyone can play; Political donations: grubbiness tolerated
• · · · · · Urban myths "Much of what we think we know about sprawl is wrong" ; Donations avalanche -- time for reform