Tuesday, May 31, 2005


The most striking indicator of disparate nature of life along the Indigenous/non–Indigenous divide in Australia is the average life expectancy one has at birth. A male child born between 1997–1999 in Australia could expect to live about 76.3 years*. In 1999–2001 this male child could expect to live about 77 years.

If this child was Indigenous, then in 1997–1999, he had a life expectancy of only 55.6 years. By 1999–2001 this had increased to 56.3 years.

This is a difference of over twenty years in life expectancy, solely attributable to a person's Indigenous status.

Because I am not Indigenous, I am likely to live twenty years longer than someone who is.

I guess that this not new to most people, but I find it the most simple indicator of the problem here in Australia. I find it an incredibly stunning statistic — just so fundamental.

JWH admitted yesterday that the differences between Indigenous and non–indigenous health outcomes in Australia is:
“unacceptable, indeed quite appalling”

We agree on one thing, then. But what has he done about it in the 8 years he has been Prime Minister? I can't find anything.

* The years I have chosen here are ones that are fully comparable across both categories. Numbers are available from the Report on Government Services, and the difference in life expectancy is about the same for women.

Friday, May 20, 2005

quickly — very serious and very funny.

  • Forum on upcoming IR reform imminent assault on the rights of the worker is on this Sunday at Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Rd Brunswick, put on by the Moreland City Council. Speakers will include The Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence MP, Federal Member for Fremantle (*sigh*), and Martin Kingham, State Secretary, CFMEU Construction Division. For more information, phone Council on 9240 1222. Thanks to Pseph Cat for this.

  • This is how I like my fundamentalist — seriously funny. If you have not read about American anti–abortionist Neal Horsley, then go here, here and here to get the story. Go here to listen to the interview.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

fine quote.

“If we are getting restless under the taxonomy of a monocotyledonous wage doctrine and a cryptogamic theory of interest, with involute, loculicidal, tomentous and moniliform variants, what is the cytoplasm, centrosome, or karyokinetic process to which we may turn, and, in which we may find surcease from the metaphysics of normality and controlling principle?” Thorstein Veblen

Found this quote in: James K. Galbraith, “Can we please move on? A note on the Guerrien debate”, post-autistic economics review, issue no. 15, September 4, 2002, article 2.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

more “incentive to work”.

Costello said last night;

“… from July 1, 2006, a person capable of part-time work will no longer be entitled to a disability pension if they are capable of working more than 15 hours a week at award wages.”

Right. So this is a campaign to force people from the Disability Support Pension (DSP) into the labour force.

“The object of these changes is to protect the genuinely disabled but to encourage those capable of part-time work to look for it.”

So … those who are deemed to be capable of part time work are not “genuinely” disabled. Right.

Did the Treasurer know there has already been a pilot study to engage DSP recipients with Job Network Providers, to encourage them to find jobs?*

As the Productivity Commission noted,

“Participation was voluntary, so that the pilot program probably attracted people with lower inherent barriers to work. For example, participans in the pilot were less likely to be aged 59 or more years and to have been on DSP for 10 years or more than the general population of DSP recipients”. (emphasis added)

That is, we have a sample population that is biased towards positive outcomes in this study.

The PC goes on to summarise the outcomes of the pilot study;

“Of the 1100 people initially considered for the pilot, around 500 did not ultimately participate or subsequently exited (because they declined to participate further, often due to poor health, or were found to be not eligible or suitable). Of the stayers, 59 per cent remained unemployed (around 10 times the average unemployment rate), 38 per cent got jobs and the small remainder entered educational courses. Of the successful job seekers, most got casual jobs (42 per cent) or part-time jobs (34 per cent), with only 24 per cent getting full time non-casual jobs. This contrasts with the economy as a whole, where the respective employment shares in these work categories are 28 per cent, 11.8 per cent and 60.6 per cent respectively.”

Hardly a raging success, but this pilot was deemed sufficient justification to force people from the DSP into the labour force. Where they are, in all likelhood, going to be ten times more likely to be unemployed (and receiving Newstart) than the labour force as a whole.

If the same proportions observed in the pilot are realised following the implementation of this cut to DSP, 60 percent of those forced into the labour force will simply have their income cut by $76 dollars per fortnight (as they go from DSP to Newstart).

As Costello said today; “We see this as helping people to better their lives.”


* The pilot study was conducted by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the interim report can be found here.


The disadvantage that results to the middle income earners (such as me) can be seen clearly in the graph above.

As taxable income increases, the difference between the two income tax schedules (tax paid under the new minus tax paid under the old) as a percentage of total tax paid under the new schedule (yellow line) can be seen to steadily decrease as taxable income increases, until around the $58k mark.

After that it is fun times. Now that is an 'incentive to work', if I have ever seen one. Maybe one day, if I work really hard and sell my soul to the devil I could be one of those rich people.

I have also included tax 'relief' as a percentage of (a) net income uner the new system, (b) gross income.

“incentive to work”.

It was a prescient choice for me to wear my angry tie this morning. I am seriously pissed off and I haven’t even had the opportunity to sit down at look at the news clippings yet.

The presentation of the budget last night announced a range of massive tax cuts that will be introduced over the next few years. This was justified under the tired maxim that lower tax provides an incentive to work.

As Peter “it’s my go on the swing” Costello said in his speech;

“to improve incentives for people to move out of welfare into work, I am announcing a tax cut for low-income earners. The 17-cent tax rate which applies between $6000 and $21,600 will be cut to 15 cents in the dollar. This change will take effect on July 1.”

Knock yourself out. For someone on $20,000 a year, this equates to about an extra $280 — or $5.40 a week. The tax that this person pays is equal to about 1.6 percent of their post tax income.

Compare this to someone on $100,000, who is $3252 better off ($62.5/wk). This net benefits from this change is equal to around 4.6 per cent of this person’s post tax income.

And this is a “progressive” income tax system.

The difference in the post tax incomes under the different income tax schedules is shown above. Those that benefit the most are those with pre tax incomes over $58,000. (And this doesn’t incorporate changes to various taxers faced by companies that allow a lot of these higher income earners access to lower rates anyway).

If you are thinking about effective marginal tax rates you probably want to chuck the changes to Newstart in. The top taper rate for Newstart has been cut from 0.70 to 0.60 cents in the dollar, and the threshold where this kicks in is to be at $250 rather than $142. This is good, but a fairly minimal move in the right direction — the total increase in welfare expenditure is just under $4bn. Compare this to the $22bn of tax cuts focussed largely on the wealthy (look at my graph, again).

Now this rant maybe somewhat ideological — I am sort of into the idea of redistribution of income. I do have a bias towards the idea of equality of opportunity (from each according to his ability, to each according to his need … with a healthy dash of market–based incentive structure to ensure some efficiency in production and allocation of resources ... ). You can also consider it from a more economic perspective. This budget is promoting consumption, through delivering so much cash back into the hands of the consumers. This is likely to have an expansionary effect, which will translate to inflation as the economy is struggling to grow further, anyway. This profligacy is likely to deliver further upward pressure on interest rates.

If you are not going to give the money to those that need it (which I know will probably have a greater effect on consumption) at least save it in the form of a surplus, or invest it infrastructure and training to try and promote future possibilities for expansion.

Enough for now.

On an aside, how much did the Age pay Misha Schubert to regurgitate Peter Costello’s guff? Tow the line, baby. No critical thought going on there.

Friday, May 06, 2005

now we wait for gordon brown.

And so … we have some semblace of sanity in the UK, with British voters rejecting Michael Howard’s (Lyndon Crosby) assertion that immigration was the source of all their problems.

This new brand of racism (supposedly a leftie fabrication) failed to fascinate the voters in the UK as well as it did in Australia, where it has been a (the?) driving force in federal politics for nearly a decade. This is good. (But why are the people I share my country with so blind?)

Howard has conceded defeat, albeit with a fairly good gain on the Labour Party. To be fair, he never had a hope, and it looks as though the previous Labour margin of 165 seats has been at least halved.

In no way am I pro Tory (but not particularly pro Tony, either), but maybe this will be a good thing. I hope that this reduced margin, coupled with the rise of the Liberal Democrats, will reintroduce a level of accountability that seemed so missing in Blair’s previous term.

The swing against Labour is at the moment 4.2 percent, with the Tories only increasing their share of the vote by 1.1 percent. The Liberal Democrats have increased their share by around 4.1 percent.

And Boris Johnson and George Galloway have both been reelected, to ensure some modicum of excitement.

This all seems fairly good.

The next question is: how long ‘til Gordon Brown kicks in?

Update: Larvatus Prodeo has a good rundown of election blogging and what's been happening.

bogan roots and football.

Amidst all the shit going down over Captain Ben and Michael Gardiner refusing to say why they hang out with dodgy cunts ‘high-profile Northbridge identities” such as John Kizon, the West reported that former WCE centre half forward Karl Langdon, never renowned for being a particularly bright spark, felt;

“that there was nothing wrong with footballers associating with alleged crime figures and admitted he had had relationships with them during his football career.”

I do hope they were long and fulfilling relationships.

Not having to ever see Karl Langdon around town or in advertisements is one of the many good things about moving to Melbourne.

So, over the last year, or so, we have had;

  • Our captain and star ruckman refuse to cooperate with police questioning over a shooting and stabbing. What are you doing hanging out at Metro City anyway?

  • A star midfielder admitting dependence on prescription painkillers and convicted for falsifying a script.

  • This star midfielder also broke the captain’s arm by chucking him down the stairs at a seedy Perth watering hole (not the same one where people were getting stabbed and shot, but near where a whole bunch of women were abducted). This altercation was following an argument regarding the shagging of the captain’s little sister. Oops.

  • Another midfielder/utility player was cleared of beating the crap out of a bloke at the same pub.

  • Up and coming key position player being involved in a high-speed car chase in his HSV ute (very classy) across Perth, reaching speeds of 135 kph (surely it goes faster than that, Quentin), before crashing it and running away from the accident. I think he got done for drunken driving, resisting arrest and leaving the scene of an accident.

  • This all makes me proud to be a West Coast supporter and a Perth western suburbs bogan.

    (We are on top of the table and undefeated)