Weekly salon 28/9

1. Some-one is getting the cream

Wealth specialists New World Wealth have charted the wealth held by individuals in countries to rank the top 20:

Our wealth per person is second only to Switzerland, and our increase in the past 15 years has only been topped by Indonesia, China and Russia.

If you don’t feel 248% wealthier, too bad, but not surprising. Our the story is in the strengthening of the Australian dollar and property prices. And who owns what.

The story was written from a British point of view. Britain punches above its weight, but there too the story was the individual ownership of property, compared with Germany, where people are more likely to rent.

2. Uruguay- utopia, or social democratic heaven?

On Sunday night Indira Naidoo on ABC Nightlife interviewed a woman who had grown up in Uruguay, was educated in Sydney, lived here and in the US, now 10 years back in Uruguay. We were told that Uruguay is a state of mind, very progressive with universal health care, education and social security, and very different from it’s neighbours, Argentina and Brazil. On COVID-19 they were told what to do by the government, but nothing was mandatory. So far they have done well. They conformed without a lockdown. People tended to look out for each other, she said.

I couldn’t find a link, but found this – Uruguay quietly beats coronavirus, distinguishing itself from its South American neighbors – yet again.

People are said to have high trust in political institutions:

    The country’s expansive welfare state provides near-universal access to pensions, child care, health care, education and income support for the poor.

This Wikipedia article tells how they came through a rough patch last century, but in recent decades have broken into the sunshine:

    Uruguay is regarded as one of the most socially advanced countries in Latin America.[15] It ranks high on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues[16] including its acceptance of LGBT people, ranking 5th in the world in the 2020 gay travel index.

It is an unusually secular country, with 41% having no religion. They have legalised the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. They appear to grow more than enough food for themselves, and get 97% of their electricity from renewable sources.

The climate looks about the same as Brisbane’s but with rainfall spread evenly throughout the year. Maybe it’s not too late to learn Spanish.

3. Here in Oz

Meanwhile here in Oz we seem to be led by a bunch who are determined to diminish our respect for governments. Having shown a brazen disrespect for law in the sports rorts, Michael Pascoe tells us the Government steps up its multibillion-dollar grants rorting:

    There is no surprise in the CDG scheme continuing to be used as a political slush fund – that is what it was specifically designed to be.

    A body can only apply for a grant if the government invites it to do so.

    The identification process is not left to public servants who might suffer from a lack of political bias – it is done by government members and their political appointments.

    It is fundamentally corrupt.

You might remember February 2019 when parliament passed a law bill giving doctors the final say on evacuating sick asylum seekers from offshore detention. Morrison said it was a “stupid bill”:

    “I will simply ignore it and we’ll get on with business,” he told Alan Jones on Sky News on Tuesday night.

So, according to our fearless leader, governments are not bound by law. They can choose to do whatever they please.

Now we have Judge says Alan Tudge engaged in ‘criminal’ conduct while preventing aslyum seeker’s release:

    Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge engaged in “criminal” conduct when he ignored a tribunal decision and left an asylum seeker in detention for five days, a judge has found.

    Justice Geoffrey Flick delivered the scathing decision at the Federal Court on Wednesday, saying the minister “engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal”.

This behaviour is now so common that hardly any of the media carried the story. It wasn’t news.

4. The Election That Could Break America

Speaking of lawlessness, according to the above linked article in The Atlantic, the US presidential election could be worse than anyone might imagine, apart from those who truly understand the manifold opportunities for ruthless powermongers to exploit the fragile links that hold the process of the election of POTUS together. Some are gaming the possibilities, which are terrifying.

At every stage there are weaknesses that can be exploited legally or through direct intervention. One possible outcome is that three people could turn up on inauguration day – Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Donald Trump – each with a right to be POTUS.

One point of contention is that the college electors must themselves be selected by the state parliament, and signed off by the governor who may be from the other political party. Which elector represents the will of the people could be contested in the courts all over the land, and may not be resolved by the requisite time. In 1876 four states sent rival slates of electors to Congress in the presidential race between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.

The Republican incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant:

    let it be known that he was prepared to declare martial law in New York, where rumor had it that Tilden planned to be sworn in, and to back the inauguration of Hayes with uniformed troops.

In 2020 the commander-in-chief and the candidate will be the same man.

Trump made his attitude perfectly clear in 2016:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election.” He paused, then made three sharp thrusts of his forefinger to punctuate the next words: “If … I … win!” Only then did he stretch his lips in a simulacrum of a smile.

He has made very clear that he will not accept postal votes as valid at all. The sheer intentionality in wrecking any semblance of due process is breathtaking.

A clear majority on election night for Biden looks like the only chance of avoiding a very ugly two or three months. Vote suppression and fear of the virus make that unlikely.

In other news Mother Jones has a story Trump Has a Half Billion in Loans Coming Due. They May Be His Biggest Conflict of Interest Yet. In the normal financial world Trump is now too toxic to do business with.

On NPR today I heard that now one in six Americans, 56 million, are struggling to put food on the plate. For blacks and hispanics it is 40%.

5. Halting drink-driving

There is a neat story in a recent New Scientist by Amie Hayley We could soon make cars stop people driving while drunk or on drugs.

She leads a team at Swinbourne University of Technology doing research on intelligent driver systems. Scanning devices can already monitor driver alertness, warning a driver if they tend to doze off. Such systems reduce collisions by around 20%. They are mandatory in Eu cars, and will be here too shortly.

Hayley is now working on scanning technology that can tell if the driver is affected by alcohol, amphetamines or benzodiazepines, prescribed for anxiety.

The world currently suffers a death from driving every five seconds. She says that people ask, “but won’t cars be driving themselves, anyway?”

Not any time soon. Self-driving cars require an alive and alert human to take over if the gadget fails. She says:

    Over the next decade, these technologies could vastly reduce the number of traffic collisions. If we embrace them, we may finally be able to stop deaths linked to intoxicated driving.

I do hope she survives the brutal cuts to university research post-COVID. Most of it was funded by overseas students, now vanishingly rare, and the government entirely unsympathetic.

87 thoughts on “Weekly salon 28/9”

  1. Just on climate for a moment…
    Nine newspapers say that the BOM is about to declare a La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean.

    The weather and climate meanwhile will go about their business.

  2. Ambi, yes, they are saying La Niña, probably, which should mean rain for us.

    August-Sept are our driest months, but right now it’s so dry I think we’d have a better chance in Birdsville. The climate doesn’t behave the way it used to.

  3. Janet A in “The Australian”:

    There is a simple way to understand the deadly double standards that apply to public servants and politicians, on the one hand, and directors and corporate executives, on the other.

    Ask what would happen if 768 Australians died due to the actions of a mine owner, or a bus company, or an amusement park. If a chorus line of executives fronted an inquiry saying “it wasn’t me” or “I don’t know anything”, how would we respond? If the CEO claimed no knowledge, couldn’t pinpoint who did what, and put it down to a “creeping assumption”, there would be hell to pay. And then some.

    This is worth pondering.

    Apparently WorkSafe in Victoria has strong powers to prosecute and a theory has been advanced that four Ministers and more than a dozen senior public servants may be vulnerable.

  4. Ambi, I think there is a lot of difference between running a company and a state government.

    That said, from my experience in government administration it mystifies me how any outside firm could be paid without proper authority. In my day there would have had to be a cabinet submission. No alternative.

  5. Yes, no doubt the law firms which specialise in class actions are busy preparing now. (One or two have close ties with State Labor, but presumably the clients must come first. )

    One of the points being made by Janet A today and in more technical detail yesterday by Robert Gottliebsen, is that Govt Departments are not exempt from WorkSafe laws*. Those laws permit detailed, independent investigations. Apparently also anyone can contact Worksafe to recommend prosecutions (giving reasons of course).

    If WorkSafe decides not to prosecute it must publish its reasons.

    (I have no direct knowledge; merely summarising Mr Gottliebsen’s opinion.)

    * which I welcome. Yes, running a company is different from running a Govt department or a Govt. Quite different. But both companies and Govts can take actions that result in injury or death.

  6. Senator Lambie once again speaks up for poor people.
    There are quite a few in Tasmania.
    (Elsewhere there are “disadvantaged” euphemism-wearers.)

    From Nine newspapers:
    Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie will not support the government’s university funding reforms over concerns they make it harder for low-income students to get degrees, leaving the proposed bill one vote short in the Senate……..
    Senator Lambie declared the bill deserved to fail because it “makes university life harder for poor kids and poor parents.”

    “I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the vote that tells the country that poor people don’t get dream jobs,” Senator Lambie said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

  7. A problem with these class actions is who pays at the end of the day.
    If a company is found responsible, the shareholders pay ( normally only big companies), so taxpaying, working members of the public.
    If the “ public servant “ is responsible, the taxpaying, working public pays.

    Either way being a working taxpayer cops the cost.

    Obviously the non working, non taxpaying folk have no skin in that game.

  8. My A, what would be considered poor for a human being do ya think ?
    What would an individual need to accumulate to be “ not poor “ in your opinion?

    Honestly asked.

  9. There are various yardsticks Mr J.
    (Still using yards in Victorian Australia.)

    Food, shelter, work, leisure, ability to pay for such. I think the Senator and I had in mind income rather than accumulated wealth.

    Of course some investments provide income and some possessions reduce daily costs (not renting shelter being one).

    Other than these vague comments I can sdd nothing, apart from my obsrrvation that some Australians have very low incones and associated ate low quality:
    Nutrition
    General health
    Cokd or cramped housing
    Choices of mobility
    Unemployment

    My data sources : Food Relief service, opp shops, conversations, supermarkets, rental market, retirement villages, hospital, schools, local Council services. All in a relatively prosperous regional town.

    For national information you may Google.

  10. Scott Morrison is going to address the National Press Club today to tell us how the budget is going to support manufacturing. Should be on ABC NewsRadio from 12.30.

    There is a preview by Michelle Grattan:

      The federal government is selecting six priority areas for support in a $1.5 billion manufacturing plan Scott Morrison will outline in a pre-budget address.

      They are resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and space.

      The plan will also focus on building “supply chain resilience” after the COVID pandemic exposed the risks of not having enough capability to quickly produce large amounts of vital items such as personal protective equipment.

      The funding will be provided over the budget’s forward estimates period.

    “Budget’s forward estimates period” means, I think, the next four years, so it’s not a big heap on money.

  11. Supply Chain Resilience sounds good.
    Hope it has more substance than “Jobson Growth.”

    Here is the Party that always criticised other Parties for “trying to pick winners”, focussing on several areas they believe are important.

    Is that a change of heart?
    Or waffle?

    Will be interesting to see whether the groundswell amongst consumers to ‘stop buying imported Chinese goods’, has altered either sales figures or importing patterns.

  12. Morrison demonstrated in that list his ability to pick losers. No renewable energy but including the consistent loser, “clean energy”.

    The list ” resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and space”

    …… sounds good on first pass but when you look at it , it is a list of corporate lobby groups. Morrison has done a mini Trump,…”we are going to print some money and dish it out to people who say nice things about me”

    An emphasis on Medical Products is the only one that seemingly adds anything not already funded or otherwise strong. “Food and beverage” ?? really ? are tax payers to support Coca Cola develop a “medical” capability for IV drip bag sales of performance enhancing Coke? … or boost the development of “Vaping” implants for the better absorption of public calming nostrums for US Red Sate export sales? … its gotta be good for ever one,…right?

    What a bunch of goons.

    Meanwhile Sith Lord Putin (always two there are) is calmly awaiting the Elevation of his Apprentice to full Lord of Evil .

    “I have PREDICTED it”

  13. bilb2

    Medical products

    I have yet to see the new **disinfectant hypodermics** referred to by the Product-Developer in Chief.

    On the market soon?

  14. This purports to be a quotation from Senator Lambie on her refusal to support the Govt’s university fee changes:

    “Weird and obscure culture wars where universities are the enemy and the working class are collateral damage,” is how the key crossbencher described the bill.

    – from a story in ‘The Oz’

    Jeepers, has she swallowed a bl**dy dictionary?

  15. When you get the government that gave us “sports rorts” deciding which manufacturing industries will get support it is not unreasonable to expect industries that have contributed significant amounts to political parties to get more support than ones that have scrimped on their political donations. Ditto industries that would logically be located in marginal seats.
    Part of what went wrong with the old protection policies is that Black Jack McEwan, leader of the country party, got control of the protection racket. The result was that it was difficult to get rid of dud businesses in political sensitive seats.
    We need systems that don’t depend on political patronage. (That is one of the advantages of free markets.) We also need systems that protect industries from the effect of changes in the exchange rate that make an industry to uncompetitive for long enough to go out of business.
    (It also helps if decisions are not being made by coal kissers and gas sniffers.)
    Having said all the above we do need to manufacture more and reduce our dependence on the importing of crucial supplies..

  16. So many possibilities , Ambi. Don’t forget the EndoLamps for Internal UVC Irradiation ,…from both endos. Also new openings for sedatives to cope with widespread US Pardon Fatigue plus new analgesics for Presidential Debate watchers. These come in two forms, a Red Pill and a Blue Pill with the Blue Pill being the most widely used.

  17. Fine work, bilb2.

    Almost certainly you have just explained the meaning of the Italian word

    innuendo

    “You put it innuendo, Signor!”

  18. John

    We need systems that don’t depend on political patronage. (That is one of the advantages of free markets.)

    Testify Brother, Hallelujah!!

    Oh, QLD ALP has its own grants rorts problem at the moment. Not getting much air time on the dinosaur media networks for some reason, hmmm……

  19. Any one can be a successful “business” person if they can triple prices and people must buy the product.

    In the background of that is that had Australia been committed to that Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement and Australia found an alternative supplier of that drug to save costs the US company could have sued for their “losses” (as I recall it).

  20. In Nine newspapers, some American called Thomas L. Friedman has his two cents worth:

    I can’t say this any more clearly: Our democracy is in terrible danger — more danger than it has been since the Civil War, more danger than after Pearl Harbor, more danger than during the Cuban missile crisis and more danger than during Watergate.

    something about some bloke who won’t accept postal ballots….

  21. Please explain. …

    If the President were too ill to cast a polling place ballot on Election Day, would he be permitted to cast a *postal ballot* and if so, will that constitute an act of fraud? Should he then advise the authorities to prosecute himself?

    Or does the White House have its own duly constituted polling place, so the POTUS and FLOTUS can lodge *bedside ballots*?

    So many constutional issues for the Supreme Court to adjudicate upon!

  22. Since the President’s place of abode is in Florida he has in the past voted by mail, and presumably will do so again.
    NB he has reiterated the incorruptibility of “Absentee” ballots which are perfectly safe unlike the “Postal” ballots which are rife with corruption (even though they use precisely the same safeguards).

  23. You’ll need to indicate where in your linked article the differences in safeguards between absentee and mail in ballots.
    A quote would do. Linking to a wiki won’t.

  24. I note that President Trump has stated millions of unsolicited ballots are being sent to everybody.
    Surely, as a knowledgeable and intelligent person he meant to say sent to every registered voter? After all, what mailing list includes “everybody”?
    He also stated

    Think of it, some Democrat governor sends in millions of ballots all over the state, like California, millions of ballots.
    Who are they sending them to? Nobody has any idea, They’re sending them to dogs. They actually have been sent to dogs.

    Que? Who would these ballots be addressed to and how could they possibly cast a ballot? (Dogs are registered voters??)
    He also neglects to point out that if the Democrats can rort the vote like this Republicans can also do it.
    This link has even more information.

  25. Ambi, don’t forget that the deep state PLOTUS, especially, needs to vote by mail, being a secret fantasy organisation, as they are.

  26. There definitely is an issue with mail in voting.

    Presumably Trump has already sent in his ballot (Trump routinely does the opposite of what he says), and what if he dies in between now and counting day? For starters this would mean that Hydroxy Chloroquine consumption, IV Ajax Chlorine Bleach treatments, and regular rectal UV3 irradiations haven’t worked, and secondly here would be the proof of Trump’s dead person phoney ballots argument.

    But if he survives then what does that mean? does Hydroxy, Ajax, and UV3 really work? Did Trump actually have the virus? Is there any actual proof of voter fraud?

    Or perhaps has Trump lied about every one of these things?

    Follow the money, follow the evidence, follow the stench of Republican corruption, and most importantly, follow Bill Barr to make sure that he doesn’t skip the country.

  27. The question really is Jumpy, did Benicia “Schnieder” fill out the form and become registered to vote? This is important as this is what it takes to actually commit a fraud!

    The same thing applies to a cat.

    I enjoy zoot’s candour, I am amused by your perpetual wrongfulness.

  28. Happens a lot

    Yeah of course it does, and all those dead cats and dogs votes count and that’s how Trump won the Electoral College.

    read any part of my initial link to see that there is not “ precisely the same “ treatment.

    I did and every mention of absentee voting is written ” absentee/mail-in voting procedures” which indicates the safeguards are the same.
    It’s up to you to describe the differences.
    Do they use different envelopes (nope) do they use different electoral lists (nope) do they use different application forms (probably not) – just how are the safeguards different?

  29. And has anybody considered that President Trump may be lying about contracting Covid? If he’s not it would be the first truthful thing he’s said in months.

  30. Haha, now zoot is a Covid Truther, wants to see the medical certificate.

    Keep digging Champ, even with red herrings in both hands.

    You’ve been great, g’nite.

  31. now zoot is a Covid Truther

    If you say so, which would mean I’m also a tax truther and a billionaire truther and an intelligence truther i.e. you think I want to see his tax returns and his college transcripts.
    Sadly I was only commenting on his 20,000 lies since taking office.
    Sweet dreams.

  32. Trumpy from Mackay should be congratulated for his persistence in parroting the president Trump line of lies.
    Perhaps it is worth thinking about what Trump may gain from claiming to have the virus. Apart from avoiding more debates.

  33. John, that last link led me to my Gmail inbox.

    In the second last one you said:

      Perhaps it is worth thinking about what Trump may gain from claiming to have the virus. Apart from avoiding more debates.

    All afternoon since I heard the news at 3:03pm. I’ve heard people speculating on the basis that Trump has the illness known as COVID-19.

    All we have been told is that he tested positive. In fact I heard from his doc that he was fit to go about his normal business.

    I have heard him say himself that he and the first lady are in more danger, because people want to hug and kiss them all the time.

    The LA Times cites CDC data to say:

      among COVID-19 patients in their 70s, the death rate for those who were in good health at the time of their infection was 10%. For those already dealing with a medical condition, the death rate was three times as great: 32%.

    So there is a good chance that Trump may be able to make light of the disease, in the manner that Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president did.

    Timothy J. Lynch at The Conversation makes the unwarranted assumption that Trump is sick. He cites precedents from history that suggest the Republicans are likely to win if Trump dies.

    I’m sure all Republicans are hoping and many are praying for the best.

    One matter to consider is that by rights a fair swathe of the White House should now be in quarantine.

    Chances are the world won’t have to suffer a second ‘debate’, but the debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris now becomes of more interest.

  34. People are also assuming Trump will b e good to go in two weeks time. As far as I can make out, if the infection is mild then symptoms disappear after two weeks, but you have to isolate for another two weeks after that.

  35. Another (minor) possible factor is a possibility of debilitation during his recuperation period.

    Recall PM Johnson’s wan, sickly appearance for weeks after he left hospital.

    The Constitution allows the Pres to sign a paper transferring Pres work to the VP on a temporary basis.

  36. There are too many different permutations and combinations for the next coupke of months….

    Only time will tell.
    All Parties and many parties over there will be planning and cogitaging.

    Including the gilded Warriors of Wall Street.

  37. Ambi, some say that Boris J has still not completely recovered. There is new concern about long term effects.

    Trump has been moved to the Walter Reed military hospital because of mild symptoms, where he in carrying on as POTUS. Boris tried this too. I believe about 7 days should indicate how bad it’s going to be for the Donald.

    Pence and Biden have tested negative.

  38. Brian: There is a procedure that allows the VP and cabinet to decide that the president is incapable of doing the job at the moment and replacing the president.
    Both political parties have a committee who would decide who becomes their candidate if the current candidate can no longer run. (The replacement does not need to be the VP or VP candidate.)

  39. Thanks, John, I missed that one.

    Have you heard about Vlad?

    Seems anyone coming near Vladimir Putin has to isolate for two weeks, then walk through a tunnel that has a disinfectant spray.

    There were military celebrations in Red Square recently attended by Vlad. The veterans participating in the parade had to quarantine for two weeks before sharing the same outdoor air as Vlad.

  40. We know that the China virus can be spread through breath.
    I wonder how it survives frozen breath in these ultra cold areas.

    Has anyone correlated temperature with the waves or just accepted that this thrives like the flu in winter?

    It may be ( ongoing till some miracle vaccine is discovered) a Spring/ Autumn kinda thing where traditional flu approaches are useless or even counterproductive.

  41. I find your use of the term “China virus” aligns you with Trump. I guess that is where you prefer to be.

  42. No need to be combative Brian.
    You gave an example, that was too tiny, that I came across and dismissed for its narrow focus in just Brazilian cities.

    And your “ Hitler liked dog too “ bullshit is not helpful at all either in most folks opinion I would imagine.

    It came from China no matter what CNN, Mother Jones, Vox or the ABC says.

  43. Trumpy: “It came from China no matter what CNN, Mother Jones, Vox or the ABC says.” No-one including China is saying it did not come from China.
    The key problem for countries like the US is that, unlike China, they haven’t done what is necessary to control the virus.

  44. Jumpy, common usage is “covid-19” (sometimes with upper case), “covid” (ditto), “the virus” or “coronavirus”, which is really a generic term.

    If you use something else it invites us to think there is a reason. I just gave you my impression – no aggression.

  45. We know that the virus emerged in a big way in Wuhan.

    Genetically I believe our Australian virus is well mixed, and it came from the US, Europe, Iran etc as well as from China. Our problem was that we didn’t close down fast enough to the other places.

    That’s history, and as John said the key thing is to control it. So where it is now is more important than where it came from. In those terms China is about the least of our worries.

  46. Brian

    If you use something else it invites us to think there is a reason.

    I long for the day when the left didn’t try to compel speech and once again fight against it.
    It seem once the right finally were convinced it was a terrible thing then the left switched.

  47. You gave an example, that was too tiny, that I came across and dismissed for its narrow focus in just Brazilian cities.
    Would have been nice if you’d let us know.
    Did you also come across this one? Or this one?
    There are more (for someone prepared to look).

  48. It has been claimed that after SARS, the WHO set up an international notification system for novel viruses. Clearly, the main aim was to assist in ‘nipping it in the bud’ before it reached epidemic – or pandemic – magnitude.

    It has been further claimed, that Chinese medical authorities did not comply in the case of COVID-19. (We’ve all heard of the medical ‘whistle-blowers’ – more accurately, doctors who wondered if some new illnesses might be caused by a new infective agent which seemed to resemble SARS. And we’ve heard of an alleged slowness of initial response, or perhaps “attempted cover-up”.)

    Regardless of the biological origin, this (I think) is where blame can be sheeted home. If the notification protocol is adhered to, notification should be routine. And not subject to political or administrative interference.

    There should be no need for any whistles to be blown.

    The subsequent measures taken in China to suppress the virus are not relevant to the above.

    If we (non-medicos) believe that “time is/was of the essence” then a very cold and hard look at the PRC is warranted.

    *** *** ***

    Sure, help the victims of a tsunami. Better still, set up an international warning system for future tsunamis.

    Was there criticism of the USSR over the Chernobyl disaster? Yes: and one of the points made early on, was that the authorities there failed to warn neighbouring nations about the radioactive clouds being blown by winds over their lands and towns.

    Of course, analogies are imperfect.

  49. It is permitted for small nations and individuals in small nations to comment critically on the actions of private organisations, leaders, and governments.

    Even if such a government/nation is a major trading partner, or has a UN veto, or is militarily strong, or is a close ally.

    I may disagree with Voltaire, but I will defend his right to have written about free speech.

  50. Mr A, there is a large difference between making certain words illegal and compelling one to substitute certain word for others.

    Morally, both are equally bad in my opinion.

  51. What difference at this point does it make?

    Hillary Clinton ( in response to questioning over a video causing the US Embassy massacre. )

  52. If it were a reply I could attempt an answer.
    But not to worry.

    (BTW, I thought both US Pres candidates in 2016 were very weak. Not a Hillary fan.)

  53. Ambi, for want of better knowledge, all of which was made more difficult by the blame game mounted by Trump and echoed by our leaders, I accept the story I posted based on the Der Spiegel article as somewhere near the mark. If so the cover-up was more Wuhan and Hubei rather than Beijing.

    Nevertheless we know now that the virus was already abroad. Most countries were culpably unready, apart from Taiwan. So whatever tardiness there was in China, at whatever level, probably only sped up the advance of the virus.

    The bigger problem now is the wrong-headed attempts to live with the virus.

    I’m investigating hotspots right now. Harvard University has a hotspot map which says that one case per 100,000 per day is green and good to go.

    Melbourne was at that point when they had 49 cases per day.

    Now consider two countries with quite solid health systems – Germany and Canada.

    Canada currently has a 7-day average of 4.86 per 100k and Germany 2.58. Both with rising trends.

    Huston, we have a problem!

  54. Jumpy, I don’t actually know what you are talking about.

    No-one is compelling you to substitute a certain word for others. I was just commenting on your usage.

  55. Brian: We all know how little it took to shift Vic into a second wave. A security guard got the virus from someone in quarantine and then went to a largish family gathering. and then it took off and still is not under control.
    (As you know I think part of the Vic problem was that the response was narrow. (Ex: Time it took to make masks compulsory.))
    Given the Vic experience it is not surprising that the virus spread so quickly.
    Our planning should be based on the assumption that there will be a third wave, we need to plan for it, we need to use a lots of strategies i parallel and we need to be developing things like faster tests, additional strategies and new medicines etc.

  56. You make good an informed points, Brian.

    Presumably the health authorities in Wuhan/Hubei are aware of WHO protocols? If not, that’s culpable.

    I believe that in the PRC control is tightly held by the CCP, and that old phenomenon of ‘distant provinces unknown to the Emperor’s court’ is well and truly gone.

    Yes, many nations were unprepared. But with a pandemic, “time is of the essence” – in many different ways. Stockpiling and testing equipment. Preparing specialised hospital wards. Sharing treatment methods. Deciding on border closures. Making extra PPE. Finding accrate tests.

    The sooner the bl**dy better.
    Nip it in the bud.

    The dire threat in Australia, was that if the r0 was high, the hospitals/clinics would quickly be overwhelmed.

    “Time is of the essence”.

    I’m not saying the PRC is solely to blame for this international disaster. Credit where credit is due; and so too with blame.

    Warnings need to be heeded of course. (And warnings aren’t much help unless they’re medically accurate.)

  57. On the day Donald Trump tested positive to COVID-19, so did 43,752 other Americans. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-05/when-trump-tested-positive-covid19-so-did-40000-other-americans/12730884
    The US President announced he tested positive on October 2, along with more than 43,000 others in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.
    He joins more than 7.4 million people who have now tested positive to the virus which has killed more than 209,000 people across the United States.
    Daily infections aren’t as high as the peaks of more than 70,000 new cases experienced in July.
    But cases have approached, or exceeded, 50,000 in recent days.
    And as the President is treated in a world-class medical facility just outside Washington DC, some states are recording record increases as cold weather arrives.

  58. There’s a telling tweet doing the rounds:

    He hosted a super-spreader event to honor a justice who would have the government control your body but refuse the duty to care for it, and when the virus he helped go around came around, he availed of the healthcare he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refuses to pay.

  59. Nicki Hutley, on Q and A:

    “You can manipulate the way you present these tax cuts to say they’re fair and even under Stage 3 that the top 10 per cent will still be paying a certain percentage of the tax base,” she said.

    “If you flatten the tax rate, by definition it is less fair, less progressive. Is that who we want to be?”

    Is that how we want Australia to be??

    Progressive income tax scales; marginal tax rates; welfare traps; poverty line; food on the table; food for thought. Poverty endures.

  60. Very pertinent, Ambi. Unfortunately I didn’t see Q&A as I was working on the new Salon, now posted, including a bit about the budget.

  61. Ambi: ““If you flatten the tax rate, by definition it is less fair, less progressive. Is that who we want to be?”
    What we have is progressive but it is not fair because the tax a family pays depends a lot on how evenly the money is spread between the adults and over time. See https://www.ato.gov.au/Rates/Individual-income-tax-rates/?page=1#Residents.
    I did the calcs for a couple averaging $90,000 each p.a over 5 yrs. They would pay a total of $208, 000 if their income was evenly spread over time between them or $378,000 if it was all earned in one year by one partner.
    What really counts is the combination of tax paid and welfare received.
    A combination of a flat tax and universal basic income UBI is progressive and much much simpler to administer than what we have at the moment. (I think you would still need a higher marginal rate for the very rich to give something approaching the current level of progressiveness.

  62. Thanks Brian and John; I didn’t see Q&A either.

    Interesting about the steadiness or ‘lumpiness’ of income, John.
    Because farming production can be so variable, farmers are permitted to ‘average’ their incomes.

    Should casual workers or small businesses be allowed a similar deal?

    It was faulty “averaging” that gave us the Robodebt debacle.
    Scrimping on human staff, etc.

  63. Ambi: “Because farming production can be so variable, farmers are permitted to ‘average’ their incomes.”
    I think everyone should be able to average taxes over say 5yrs. Farmers aren’t the only ones with variable income.
    Dealing with the marital partner one is a bit trickier given the variable nature of “marital relationships” and the influence of marital relationships re right to welfare. Perhaps we could leave it up to people whether they define themselves as being partners for tax purpose with the proviso that partners have to pay for any welfare payments for say 5 yrs after separation.
    Flat taxes get over both these problems as long as the tax free threshold is negligible.

  64. The Treasurer is going one better, John.
    Businesses with losses now will be allowed to “carry them back” to the 2018/19 tax year.

  65. Ambi: “Businesses with losses now will be allowed to “carry them back” to the 2018/19 tax year.” and completely write off a new assets in the first year of ownership. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-06/budget-2020-cheat-sheet-tax-cuts-deficit/12731916
    I guess the government that gave us sports rorts is yet again looking after its own (donors) but the tax cuts in particular don’t seem to be value for money at the moment and the write off rules could result in government paying a lot for highly priced duds.

  66. There’s no fine tuning here, John.

    Always the write-offs have to be indiscriminate (except perhaps an annual maximum). If getting the $ flowing around the economy is the main aim, the question of “duds” doesn’t arise.

    Diesel subsidies for farmers: some farms are productive, some farmers look after the land; some are cruel to livestock. A diesel subsidy doesn’t discriminate.

  67. The write-off is only a prospective tax deduction in the first year rather than spread over a number of years. It’s actually operating now, as I found when I did my tax last year.

    If you buy a bit of new gear you are thinking about whether the work justifies the expenditure, not so much whether you can write it off for tax. The main issue is that it doesn’t to any extent vitalise the economy and create demand.

    I’d just love a chain saw on a long handle, but I’d use it probably less than 10 times a year.

    I heard last night that if you increase social welfare, pensions and such, it has a multiplier effect of 3.5.

  68. That multiplier effect sounds good.
    Over and over again, commentators have said that the quicker way to get the money moving is to get it to people who are almost certain to spend it .

    What’s happening now?

    Families with incomes reduced by being laid off, are spending less and possibly saving more or trying to quickly reduce their credit card debt. (A commentator on the Budget said the “savings ratio” has risen.)

    Some applied for mortgage or rent holidays.

    Some raided their superannuation savings.

    More than usual are going to welfare services e.g. food relief.

    This is an unusual recession. Different from the GFC. Leigh Sales tried a “gotcha” moment with the Treasurer. “You have to admit, Treasurer, that Labor was right to spend up big in the GFC.”

    Josh: “With interest rates already so low, we had no scope to use monetary policy this time, Leigh.”

    Ms Sales appeared not to comprehend that point.

  69. Ambi, Ms Sales typically follows her cheat sheet and tries to coerce interviewees rather than respond to what they are saying.

  70. Brian: “Then you have to relocate, live in quarters provided, notify Centrelink, and then restart Centrelink once the gig is over.” I suspect the relocation costs are not included in the clawback calcs.
    The restart is more problematical because there is a delay: “Seasonal Work Exclusion Waiting Period rules say: “If you or your partner have finished doing seasonal, contract or casual work in the 6 months before you claim, you may need to wait for a period of time before you can receive your payment. The seasonal work exclusion period will depend on how much you earned from your work and how long you were working for. The duration is based on how long it would take an average wage earner to earn the same amount as a person engaged in contract, seasonal or casual work.”
    This rule is trying deal with a situation where the amount of work, income and expenses can vary substantially over the year for both businesses and individual workers.
    In some cases it is not reasonable for the worker or business owner to expect Newstart during the times when they are not earning because their total income over the year is well above the minimum annual wage.
    In other cases, such as fruit picking, the pay rate or hours of work they get over a year may be much less.
    “Fruits of their labour” Q WEEKEND June 9, 2018 included some data for Pacific Islander fruit pickers working in Qld. Key figures for a 6 month picking season ($22/hr with 30 hr per week guarantee, average spending $8000) . If an Australian got these conditions working for 26 weeks and was unable to get work outside the 26 weeks:
    Income = $17,160
    Lost Newstart=$7098 (Doesn’t include waiting period losses)
    Amount remaining after spending and lost Newstart=$2062before waiting period Newstart losses.
    Newstart now has a Seasonal work incentives trial that will allow some workers who have been on Newstart for at least 3 months to earn $5000 before Newstart reductions start. This could reduce the Newstart loss above by $2068 and boost the amount remaining to $4130.” http://pragmatusj.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-is-wrong-with-newstart.html

  71. Another Nobel Prize:

    The World Food Programme (WFP) has won the 2020 Nobel peace prize for its efforts to combat hunger and to improve conditions for peace in conflict areas.

    The chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, revealed the 2020 laureate at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, where coronavirus restrictions drastically reduced the usual throng of reporters in attendance.

    Reiss-Andersen said the committee gave the award to the WFP because it wanted to “turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger”. Hunger, she said, was used as a “weapon of war and conflict”.

    — Guardian online

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