12th May 2005 & 17th May 2005.
2005 BUDGET -
The Howard & Costello 2005 budget reduced income taxes and set up a
"future fund" to act as a hedge against unfunded retirement claims by
government employees. That retirement fund will attain a value of
around AU$90 billion within about 4 years. That represents about
20% of the total value of the Australia stock market.
The income tax rate from about $6k to about $35k was reduced from
17c/dollar to 15c/dollar. There were also reductions in the
higher rates, and the limits were extended. This had the effect
of disturbing the sensibilities of the social welfare platform of the
Your diarist has two criticisms.
I doubt that the ALP will accept my suggestion, but if they did,
it would certainly pose a problem for J. Howard.
- Investment by the future fund will further distort
the stock exchange of Australia. The governors of the reserve
have had kittens (e.g. made interest rate threats) over inflationary
indicators. Their actions have frosted over the real estate
injections of cash into the financial system will revive the real
estate bubble problem.
- Instead of reducing the rate at the bottom, it would have
been socially equitable to have increased the bottom range
(presently 6k - 35k @ 17c/dollar) to start at zero income ($0 - $35k @
17c/dollar) and at the same time introduce an untested
universal payment (like a negative income tax) of somewhere between
$1,000 & $2,000 to each
citizen (from birth to the grave). That payment would offset the
loss due to the extended range for most taxpayers, but would at the
same time have supplemented all of those social security payments
(unemployment, child support etc.) which could also have been
commensurately reduced The changes to the ranges and rates for
higher incomes are long overdue.
OF LIBERTY -
Michael Jackson, Peter Lewis (MP-South Australia) and Franca Arena (ex
These three are all names associated with the public procedures of a
liberal democracy in controlling criminal activity by persons in power
(specifically, in those cases, pedophilia.) The first named is a
victim. The other two are Australian MP's (members of Parliament)
people accused of pedophilia under "parliamentary privilege". Parliamentary privilege is a
platform against which defamation proceedings cannot be
initiated. Franca Arena was discredited and lost her seat in the
NSW parliament. Peter Lewis has lost his post as speaker of the
South Australian parliament. It remains to be seen whether he
will be publicly discredited and pay a further cost at the next
The prosecutor of Michael Jackson is playing his swan song. He is due
to retire about now. It is regrettable that no stronger
disincentive than humiliation can be applied to retiring prosecutors in
the USA who initiate actions on weak grounds.
The power to initiate such public actions must rest somewhere. It
is vital to liberty.
KERKORIAN & GM -
Why is Kerkorian spending billions to buy General Motors stock?
He is not noted for making stupid investments, so the question arises,
what is the angle to
buying significant proportions of a corporation that seems to be in
financial difficulty? GM has the wrong style of cars for the
petrol expensive era, and the company is loaded with employee benefit
make it uncompetitive
Australian diarist's suspicion is that Kerkorian anticipates that the
US Federal government will intervene, much as it has in the airlines,
and act to cancel all those fat employee benefits.
Such interventions carry a high risk. If the intervention causes
a real change in the efficiency of the organization, then the
intervention was justified. If it does not, then the intervention
is an unconscionable expenditure of taxpayer's funds.
- VSU -
In Australia, membership to the university student's union costs about
$500 p/a and is
compulsory. Prime minister Howard has foreshadowed legislation
which would make union membership voluntary (hence VSU)
The university administration and the union executive have reasons to
compulsory unionism. The universities presumably could not charge
the exorbitant rents obtained for union premises if the unions were
voluntary (& presumably, destitute). The union executive and
fellow travelers would no longer obtain the subsidized alcohol and
extravagantly funded functions that they currently enjoy if VSU came
A few weeks ago about 5,000 students (from University of Sydney and
UTS=University of Technology, Sydney) out of a population of around
50,000 for the two universities staged a march-demonstration.
Diarist attended the demonstration, and took the above photograph
looking across the front lawn towards downtown Sydney.
The demonstrators claimed that student life would degenerate without a
student union and student subsidized services.
Student objections mainly revolve around the high cost (about $16/week,
or over $3 per day) which subsidizes rather ordinary food at rather
ordinary prices at the union canteens. Other purposes for which
the funds are officially utilized are subsidizing of university
clubs. (e.g. the winetasting club). There is an
(unconfirmed) rumor that there exists a club which refunds the subsidy
as cash to it's members on their only annual attendance.
17th May 2005 In
Tuesday's "The Australian" of 17th May was an article by journalist
"Angas Kidman" that exemplifies my reasoning as to the inevitable
failure of the mainstream media except as a social column: to wit, that
the "expert" journalists hired are sycophants rather than expert.
Angus article "64-bit ready for flying start" correctly identifies that
the point of a 64 bit address will enlarge the address space, but then
he manages to show technical incompetence by indicating that the count
of addresses would enlarge from 4 GB to 8 TB (TeraBytes. To give him
his due, he correctly states a terabyte as 1024 GB, and Tera =
10^12. Of course he might be using the English system, where
successive expansions double the previous count of "zero's", but in
that case a GB would have been 10^12, not 10^9).
So lets put it kindly, in no more than three syllable words. A 32
bit address will reach 2^32
locations, or ~ 4 GB (10^9). A 64 bit address will reach 2^64
locations, which is ~ 16 * 10^18, not 8 * 10^12. And yes, I
really think you should refund the fee that you were paid for that
19th May 2005 Another
failure of the mainstream media was highlighted. Newsweek had
published a story to the effect that "US interrogators were under
investigation for placing copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, on
toilet seats in an attempt to agonize prisoners. There was even
an instance of their flushing a copy."
On the 18th May Newsweek rretracted that story, citing as reason
that it was from only one, usually reliable source, and had since been
denied. In the meantime about 20 Muslims had died in riots.
Their denial was "weak", in that nobody was sacked, and readers were
left with the impression that Newsweek had reluctantly denied the story
If twenty lives are not worth somebodys job, then Newsweek deserves the
opprobrium it will suffer. More than likely, the ultimate
responsibility rested with an executive director.