Beware Gang of Four (school children)

November 11, 2010

I always thought that when governments talk about ‘savings’ they’re cutting spending. Not any more. We’ve now discovered that when the federal government reneges on a commitment to reduce tax it is a ‘savings measure’. I kid you not.

This week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook from Treasury says that to fund the government’s $10 billion ‘Regional Australia Package’ (the price of the Independents supporting Labor) the government will reduce the tax concessions on interest income it had promised.

Here’s the quote (page 130): ‘This change will deliver savings of $730 million…’  Huh?  On that thinking why don’t we just classify every tax increase as a ‘saving’?

The Grattan Institute’s Saul Eslake had this excellent piece in The Age last Wednesday on bank interest rates. As he says – if politicians tell us to change banks because they raise interest rates, does that mean we should change governments when they raise taxes???

It’s been a big few weeks for the Nanny State: a Victorian primary school has banned kids from socialising in groups larger than three, and in the UK a shop assistant refused to sell Christmas bon-bons to a 6 year-old because they are ‘explosives’ (the bon-bons not the kids).

Oh and if you’ve ever wanted to swim the English Channel – tough luck. The French Nanny State wants to stop you.

If you can’t get enough of US politics read this piece by historian Sean Wilentz in The New Republic on Tuesday. I’ve read his books The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln and The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008. They’re pretty good even though he’s a left-leaning, pro-Clinton partisan. Which is why his analysis of Obama is so interesting.

And you have to check out this very funny video by US Presidential ‘candidate’ Hugh Jidette (think about his name long enough and you’ll get it). You can check out his other videos here.

In The Drum last Thursday Alan Moran criticised the Department of Climate Change and in last Friday’s Herald Sun he discussed Australia’s housing problems. In The Australian on Tuesday Sinclair Davidson said Treasury was wrong again and in the AFR Tom Switzer said politics trumped climate change in the US. In today’s Australian Professor Bob Carter argues that An Inconvenient Truth has no place in schools. And Tim Wilson was on the ABC’s The Drum on Monday discussing public campaign financing.

PS – The IPA’s Chris Berg will be debating Rev Tim Costello AO, Michael Short and Waleed Aly on ‘Has Australian democracy become too conservative?’ Information here.

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