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