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Member Since 20 Nov 2009
Offline Last Active Jan 06 2018 12:19 AM

Topics I've Started

The Buffett Rule

20 April 2017 - 10:18 PM

Meet the 48 millionaires who pay no income tax, not even the Medicare levy

Forty-eight of Australia's highest earners paid no income tax in 2014-15, not even the Medicare levy, according to an analysis of Tax Office data that lends weight to calls for legislated minimum tax payments.

Each of the 48 earned more than $1 million before deductions, an average of $2.46 million each.


All were able to drive their taxable incomes down below the $18,200 tax-free threshold. Thirty-four reported taxable incomes of zero, while 12 reported combined losses of $13.9 million.

Extraordinarily, the biggest deduction claimed by 19 of the 48 was "cost of managing tax affairs", averaging about $1.07 million each.


On the face of it, the figures suggest these people spent almost half of their reported incomes managing their tax affairs, a proportion so high as to raise suspicions that their actual incomes were higher.

The Tax Office defines "cost of managing tax affairs" as including the cost of preparing and lodging tax returns, the fees paid to recognised tax advisers, the cost of court appeals and interest charges imposed in relation to tax disputes.


Bizarrely, a handful of the highest earners who escaped the Medicare levy were forced to pay the Medicare levy surcharge. The surcharge is meant to be charged on top of the levy for high earners who don't have private health insurance, but a budget change in 2008 applied to a broader measure of income than the levy itself.


The levy itself applies only to taxable income, which 579 people earning more than $250,000 managed to cut to less than the tax-free threshold.



I think competent people who make money by working hard, benefiting the economy, and creating jobs, should be rewarded in a way that reflects their hard work.  Anything less would be met with the stifling economic impacts of 20th century communism.  The problem isn't making money, or being wealthy, it's taking from the Australian society in the form of infrastructure, public services, and governance, and not giving anything back.


The Buffett Rule was coined by Warren Buffett in 2011 when he realised that his secretary paid more tax than he did.  It proposes a minimum tax rate after income earners cross the no-tax threshold, regardless of deductions.  This seems entirely too logical to me, so I'd be interested to hear what objections Atomicans raise?

War is brewing in Asia

12 April 2017 - 12:41 PM

There's been additional escalation in tension between the US and China overnight, with Pyongyang essentially threatening the US with a Nuclear strike:


North Korea has warned of a nuclear attack on the United States, as a US Navy strike group steamed towards the Korean peninsula and US President Donald Trump tweeted that the rogue nation was "looking for trouble".


Key points:
  • North Korea says its "revolutionary strong army is keenly watching" US moves
  • Donald Trump has urged China to do more on the North Korea issue
  • North Korea is set to celebrate the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth
  • Mr Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbour, said in a tweet that the United States would "solve the problem" of North Korea with or without China's help.
US Navy strike group heads toward Korean waters amid North Korea nuclear threat
Key points:
  • A US Navy statement says the aircaft carrier USS Carl Vinson left Singapore on Saturday
  • President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart agree to stay in close contact about North Korea and other issues
  • The move follows North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests and continued pursuit of a nuclear program



[Disputed] China 'deploys 150,000 troops to deal with possible North Korean refugees over fears Trump may strike Kim Jong-un following missile attack on Syria'


Key points:

  • Trump's Syria strike Friday was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea 
  • China, which was left shocked by the air strikes, has deployed medical and backup units from the People's Liberation Army forces to the Yalu River 
  • The troops have been dispatched to prepare for pre-emptive attacks by the US



This news article is disputed by China, who argues it's South Korean propaganda.



Under different conditions, I'd dismiss these developments as the usual sabre rattling.  Each of these things have occurred multiple times in the past, and nothing has come from them.  However, there are a few key points of concern over the current situation.  


The first is obviously the Trump factor.  I don't trust him to put the interests of the world above his own ego.  The current political climate in the US doesn't seem to have the grit to reign in an unhinged leader, and Trump seems to have surrounded himself with enablers.  It also wouldn't be the first time international conflict has been used to distract Americans from domestic issues.  Maybe Trump is a war president. He makes decisions from the Oval Office on foreign-policy matters with war on his mind.


The second is the tension in China from the recently installed THAAD missile defence system in South Korea.  This has caused national boycotts of all things Korean in China, who have accused South Korea of being a US puppet, and disturbing the balance of power.  If you look at the history of the move, which the US has been pushing for since at least 2013, I think there's room for a little bit of skepticism.  North Korean missiles are poorly developed, but they certainly still represent a threat, so it's hard to deny that the system serves a defensive purpose.  The furore is that the placement also potentially compromises China's ability to retaliate against the US.  If the rumours are true that THAAD systems will also be installed in Taiwan, it could potentially allow the US to strike China with ICBMs, with minimal fear of counter-strikes.


China completely selfishly supports North Korea as a buffer state between it and a close ally of the US, mitigating the potential for a land based invasion.  The relationship has become uneasy over the last few years as Beijing has come to realise that North Korea could just as easily turn on the hand that feeds it.


A final point of consideration is that the dictatorship in North Korea is violently oppressive, and truely represents a threat to stability in the region.  If there was ever a case for military intervention, this is probably it.  Part of the reason this hasn't happened is because it's essentially a Mexican standoff.  Any move to disarm NK will most likely result in the destruction of Seoul, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.  We don't have a countermeasure for artillery.  There's also a very real risk of it developing into war with China, which even if you downplay the human cost and threat of nuclear apocalypse, would be disastrous for the world economy.


The preferable solution from my perspective would be to isolate all forms of support, offer asylum to any North Korean who asks for it, and wait patiently for the regime to collapse.  It'd still lead to tragedy, but hopefully less so than conflict.  This could be forced through mutually damaging trade sanctions on states that still support the regime, but it's a sacrifice I'm guessing most would be unwilling to make given our dependancy on China.  


I'd be interested to hear alternative thoughts, particularly on what strategies military intervention could use to avoid collateral damage in South Korea, or all-out-war with China.

The end of Clarke and Dawe

10 April 2017 - 11:46 AM

Celebrated satirist and comedian John Clarke has died suddenly, aged 68.

Clarke was born in New Zealand but made his name as a comedian and political satirist in Australia after arriving in the 1970s.
For 27 years, he has appeared on Australian television conducting mock interviews and skewering politicians with his comedy partner, Bryan Dawe.
The pair was best known for the Clarke and Dawe segment on the ABC's 7.30 program.
Clarke was a man of diverse talents — a comedian, actor and writer of television, film and stage musicals.
He came to attention in his native New Zealand in the 1970s with the TV series Fred Dagg, a satirical take on the country bloke.
He co-wrote the multi-award winning mockumentary The Games, about the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, which aired in 1999 and 2000.
He also co-wrote stage musicals The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Little Ragged Blossom.
His books included A Dagg at My Table, The Howard Miracle and The 7.56 Report.
Clarke was bushwalking in Victoria over the weekend when he died.
He had a good innings, but I'm still very sorry to see him go.  The ABC have put together some of the Clarke and Dawe highlights, which are well worth revisiting:


[Another] London Terror Attack

23 March 2017 - 12:40 PM


London attack: At least five dead, 40 injured after terrorist targets Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament


A suspected Islamist terrorist has been shot dead after killing four people and injuring 40 more in a car and knife attack on London's Westminster Bridge and inside the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.


The attack started at about 2:40pm (local time) when a speeding car ran down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, before crashing into the railings surrounding the Parliament.

The knife-wielding driver then entered the Parliament grounds and fatally stabbed a police officer, identified as a 48-year-old father with 14 years' service, before himself being shot dead.

The three other fatalities were members of the public hit by the car on Westminster Bridge.

"We've declared this as a terrorist incident and the counter-terrorism command are carrying out a full-scale investigation into the events today," Mark Rowley, Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer, told reporters.

He would not comment on the identity of the attacker, but said police were working on the assumption that the attack was "Islamist-related terrorism".

Hundreds of officers are investigating the attack, and the investigation is working at a "very fast pace", Mr Rowley said.


Source: http://www.abc.net.a...-bridge/8378392






5 people dead, with likely long term consequences to perceptions of public safety, need for increased security, and general impact on Western freedoms.  


Daesh or a similar organisation will no doubt take responsibility, with the usual demand for British and other Western forces to withdraw from Syria.


Maybe it's time to seriously rethink our Middle Eastern policy, and actually withdraw?  Yes, that will necessarily result in civilian deaths and the likely emergence of oppressive power structures, but I think we need to draw a line somewhere.  The current strategy of bombing the shit out of them is clearly failing, and I think our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have made it clear that you can't impose democracy or peace on a society fundamentally fractured by tribalism (Sunni vs Shia).

Universal Basic Income as a product of an Automated Economy

15 March 2017 - 11:51 PM

Separating this from the 'How crap is this government?' thread, I stumbled across this video this evening that raises a few interesting points:



I think there's an interesting parallel to slave labour in Rome, and I think the BAI and NAI are clever mechanisms to control UBI rates.