7:46 Aug 11th, 2014 | 3 notes
Omg I haven’t posted anything since March.
"Those who thought the cold war was over and hoped for a better world are being proved to be wrong."
-2:38 Mar 3rd, 2014 | 0 notes
6:08 Feb 6th, 2014 | 13 notes
Whoever is responsible for @DeptOfAustralia you deserve a fucking medal. These are glorious.
Update: Leslie Nassar is Dept. of Australia’s wonderful, wonderful creator.
Wine, Travel Agents, and Tax Credits8:55 Feb 3rd, 2014 | 2 notes
Screw the Super Bowl, the 2013 Tax Expenditure Statement was released last Friday and it’s far more exciting.
The sums contained in the Statement are eye-watering. In the 2013-14 financial year, the Australian government will forgo $113.69 billion in revenue as a result of the twenty-nine largest tax expenditure programs. This doesn’t include the other 326 tax expenditure programmes buried in Australia’s gargantuan tax codes: the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, which combine to be 6758 pages long. Wow.
In total, Australia spends around eight percent of GDP each year on these 355 tax allowances, deductions, credits, exemptions, concessions and deferrals—more than any other country in the rich world. The only countries that come close to our level of tax wizardry are economically stagnant Italy, and politically sclerotic America.
Unfortunately, individual tax expenditure programs suffer from the same politics as any other government program. For the majority of tax expenditures (including such gems as the $11 million per year ‘Consumption tax exemption for privately produced wine’), their costs are dispersed among all taxpayers, while their benefits are concentrated on a select few. This combination means they are hard to get rid of: any politician who dares threaten a tax handout will suffer the wrath of its beneficiaries intent on protecting their sacred (taxpayer-funded) cow.
To be sure, not all tax expenditures are as indefensible as, say, the $95 million a year in GST exemptions for travel agent services (but only if your holiday is overseas, because that makes sense), or the $280 million a year we pay to people living in the middle of nowhere because they live in the middle of nowhere (I’m not kidding, it’s called the ‘Zone tax offset’). There are, for example, a plethora of worthy tax expenditures targeted at armed forces personnel. But herein lies the problem: yes, our servicemen and servicewomen are deserving recipients of government tax benefits, but so are parents receiving tax breaks on their child care, businesses receiving deductions for environmental protection activities, and farmers receiving accelerated write-offs for water conservation projects, and so on, and so on. Pretty soon everyone has a tax credit or deduction, and we end up with the torrent of more than $113 billion gushing from the Treasury each year. Almost every good cause can be justified, packaged into a tax deduction and added to the national credit card.
The federal government is expected to raise $364.9 billion in revenue this year, after the $113 billion has been given away as tax expenditures. Imagine how much we could cut personal and corporate income taxes if we did away with even just a portion of our annual tax expenditures, and imagine how much simpler our 6758 page tax code could be. The argument is similar to that made against Australia’s unique system of dividend imputation: the details and benefits of such a complex system are often overlooked by, or unknown to, those not already in the game—only insiders reap the benefits. As for imputed dividends, tax expenditures are more opaque, more time consuming to deal with, require more bureaucracy, and are far less efficient than their alternative: broad tax cuts which benefit everyone and are easy to understand. Simple.
It will take superhuman determination and courage to fix Australia’s huge tax expenditure mess, but if Prime Minister Abbott is serious about cutting red tape and boosting productivity, doing so should be at the top of his agenda.
Read the rest of the gripping 2013 Tax Expenditure Statement here.
"Those living in dictatorships often harbour the delusion that the point of democracy is that you get the government you want. Those living in democracies soon realise that is not the system’s most salient feature: rather, it is that a large number of voters get the government they do not want and are expected to put up with it until the next election"
- The Economist9:35 Jan 15th, 2014 | 0 notes
7:26 Jan 9th, 2014 | 12 notes
Holy moley look at my derpy face, oh gosh.
9:39 Dec 24th, 2013 | 1 note
Merry Christmas, friends :)
Forget obesity as a disease; it’s a ruse. For whatever reason, the majority of the population can no longer say I have had enough. For whatever reason, the majority of human beings respond to advertisements inviting them to enter a pleasure state by eating a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, again and again. In the face of this, we are stuffed. We could say, “You are free agents, totally free, so pay for your own consequences.” We could make people pay at the point of choice, via a food tax, or we could limit choice. The other option, always unspoken, is: let us have our cake. Let’s just eat and eat, get fatter and fatter, and work out how best to live with it. This is where we are heading now: fatness, outside of morality, as an accepted consequence of the world as we have made it.
We can decide as a country, as a world, that we are going to consume what we have until we’re done, eating as much as we wish and treating all the concomitant diseases by diverting substantial amounts of government revenue into medicine and pharmaceuticals. If we do choose this path – and we are most of the way there already – we must be honest about what we are choosing to do: to spend our country’s money on the consequences of indiscriminate consumption.
If you come to me, your doctor, and you ask me to make you thin, for now I will have to cut you or drug you, as these are the only weapons I have to ward off the sirens. There will come a time when patients stop asking their doctors to make them thin. It will either be because fatness is rare again, or because it has become entirely accepted. The choice is in your hands. Are you going to eat it?"
-9:29 Dec 2nd, 2013 | 4 notes
"In the long shadow of these upheavals, we gather to ponder their meaning and to commemorate the values that shone in their wake: courage under pressure, ingenuity in adversity, bonds of mateship and above all, loyalty to Australia."
-6:58 Nov 11th, 2013 | 2 notes
"Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government": Prime Minister Tony Abbott forgets the first rule of diplomacy8:11 Oct 28th, 2013 | 11 notes
There is really only one rule of international politics: leave you domestic politics at the door. Really, no one wants to hear that, nor will they understand what the hell you are talking about. Above all, it just looks very petty and unbecoming of a leader on the world stage.
It appears however, that no one told this to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Here’s what he had to say about the former Labor government in an interview with The Washington Post:
With blistering speed, Fairfax Media got a quote from respected academic Norman Ornstein on the affair:
Clinton Fernandes, associate professor of international and political studies at the University of New South Wales, had this to say:
Prime Minister, you won the election, remember?