Negative gearing

The old chestnut of negative gearing is being raised yet again. There is nothing at all wrong with allowing asset owners to claim interest payments as a tax deduction if capital gains are fully taxed. Similarly there is nothing wrong with exempting the family home from capital gains taxes if, as is the case, interest [...]

Spam from University of Sydney

I get large amounts of email spam. Apart from asking people concerned to stop (the University of Sydney ignores such requests) and adding unsought email addresses to my junk mail box (useless as the address list is apparently circulated inside the organisation) what else can I do? Isn’t an unsubscribe option a requirement for this [...]

Equity prices in Australia

Australian equity prices surged earlier this year, took a breather, then have recently surged again.

Greg Mankiw links to a (very comprehensive) survey suggesting US equity prices are cheap.

If that is so these RBA graphs suggest Australian equities remain cheap:

since 1995 Aussie share prices have increased slower than the S&P but generally followed [...]

Plain packaging – take a look

One of the ludicrous complaints about the so called “plain packaging” rules on cigarettes it that they make it harder to select a sought-after brand in a shop. That can only be true if the shop-assistant is illiterate. The brand and brand variety is indicated clearly on the front as well as top and base [...]

Is a species extinction a bad thing?

This New Scientist article suggests not necessarily. The thinking reflects the theme of a recent exhibition in London. Some snippets (with my responses):

“Extinction, like death, is a natural part of life,” declares an epigraph at the start of this exhibition. “Extinction isn’t necessarily the end of the world, it could be just the beginning…” [...]

Thinking clearly about immigration

We have been selective in sections of our immigration program – for example the business program discriminates on the basis of wealth. But if one raises the case for not favouring the admission to Australia of those who come from violent societies where our democratic values and belief in religious tolerance would get zero respect [...]

Scientology & Catholicism

I am definitely no fan of Scientology but the ruckus this week over the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes separation on the alleged role of Scientology in the upbringing of their daughter strikes me as pure hypocrisy. BTW I am unsure this is in fact the basis for the separation but it is the issue being focused [...]

Foolish assaults on the AFR

I always enjoyed John Quiggin’s columns in the AFR. They were thought-provoking. I was disappointed when his column was terminated. More generally I get much of my news from the AFR. The articles there are punchier and better quality than the mainstream non-bogan press in Victoria such as The Age. The Australian has lost all [...]

Will humanity perish (soon)?

Yes it is an untypically narrow question but with zero expertise…..I’ll have a go. With no background in the relevant cosmology or philosophy area I have been reading philosopher John Leslie’s The End of the World. It has always seemed to me that accounting for possibilities, such as the end of the human species, in [...]

Discounted carcinogen deliveries

DP has pointed out to me that British American Tobacco have launched a discounted brand “Just Smokes” just before the plain packaging legislation comes into operation. The brand name has a generic sound to it consistent with the future market environment. It might be expected that the other 3 large cigarette manufacturers in Australia will [...]

iTunes music match

For $35 I have installed iTunes match as a component of iCloud on my home computer. On this computer I have previously installed several hundred classical and popular music CDs – 3,500 ‘songs’ in total in iTunes. ‘Match’ searches through these and locates which are held on the iTunes server that stores around 20 million [...]

Oil price increases to collapse the US economy?

I am intrigued by the WSJ’s concern that rising oil prices will destroy the US economy. Goodness gracious oil prices there are approaching $3-74 US per gallon. That’s about 98.8 US cents per litre or 40 per cent less than Australian prices. Of course these prices are, in turn, a dimension less than European prices. [...]

Fa piao again

I was pleased to notice that my enthusiasm for Chinese Fa piao is taken up in a post at Marginal Revolution. Of course the streetwise Aussi economist got there first! I emphasised the nature of this unique Chinese mechanism as an anti- tax avoidance device whereas Marginal Revolution see not collecting the Fa Piao as [...]

Catchy tune by Gotye

I heard this on the radio while driving through heavy traffic the other day. My younger daughter identified it for me -its “Somebody that you used to know” by an Aussi-Belgium singer called Gotye and accompanied by the georgeous New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra. I think they are pretty good – its certainly a catchy tune. [...]

Christopher Hitchens age 62

A formidable interview with Tony Jones days before Hitchens’ death. A tribute from his brother. A brief tribute from Christian debating opponent Tony Blair. (269)

Falling in polls, Romney considers adultery

The Borowitz report here.

Huddles with Advisors About Possible Affair


CONCORD, NH (The Borowitz Report)– Troubled by his fading poll numbers, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is considering a bold strategy to reboot his Presidential campaign: engaging in a high-profile extramarital affair.At a press conference in Concord, New Hampshire today Mr. Romney confirmed that [...]

Murray Darling Basin Draft Plan

The MDB Draft plan was released today. It is complicated and long – I have done little more than glance through it. The length and complexity has not stopped irrigators and conservationists from attacking it from different perspectives. Extra water diverted to the environment to flush out the system and provide therapeutic flooding is set [...]

Indian showmanship

Speechless after watching this. We are selling these guys nuclear fuels.

HT Marginal Revolution (297)

Carbon tax for Australia

Australia will have a carbon tax of $23 per tonne from July 2012. Thereafter the price will be linked to prices in international carbon markets since Australian firms will be able to buy half their permits in these markets. Setting a fixed tax rate now means that carbon prices in Australia are 2-3 times those [...]

Disrespecting science

This article – extracted from New Scientist – provides a valuable summary of the anti-science attitudes of US Republicans. Its the usual stuff – climate change delusionism, giving equal status to Biblical and evolutionary theories of the origin of the human species, diseases caused by immunisations and so on.

This type of irrational credulity created [...]