Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's easier to move up Down Under (?)

This study is naive. It ignores American realities. It uses statistics for the USA as a whole. Statistics for whites only would be very different

The great American dream of going from rags to riches is more of a reality in Australia, although we are less inclined to believe it, a new study has found. The study by Andrew Leigh at the Australian National University has found Australian sons are more likely than American sons to achieve a higher income than their father. Overall, he found Australia was home to more "class-jumpers" than the US, with a person's position in society less likely to be determined by birth. "It is easier to move from rags to riches in Australia than it is in the United States," Dr Leigh said. "Particularly for those who begin in poverty, Australia offers a greater chance of rising up the income ladder."

In a new paper titled Intergenerational Mobility In Australia, Dr Leigh drew on four separate surveys of Australian men born between 1910 and 1979. The study considered men only, because mothers had historically lower levels of participation in the workforce from which to make comparisons. It found that of sons born to fathers with jobs putting them in the bottom fifth of the population by income, 12 per cent had climbed into the top income bracket in their working lifetime. Similar surveys in the US found just 5 per cent of sons could expect to make the jump in just one generation.

"It's contrary to the national myth that a lot of Americans have about themselves, that although there is a lot of inequality, anyone can make it to the top," Dr Leigh said. But while Americans may be overly optimistic about their prospects, separate surveys suggest Australians are overly pessimistic. Thirty-nine per cent of Australians agreed with a statement that poor people were trapped in poverty, compared with just 29 per cent of Americans who thought the same. Similarly, 40 per cent of Australian respondents felt income was determined by luck, compared with 30 per cent of Americans who felt that.

Dr Leigh said there were many reasons for Australia's higher social mobility. "Increases in health care coverage and expansions in education attainment are among the policy reforms that might have been expected to increase intergenerational mobility." Australia's convict past and heritage of free settlement had also helped to create a relatively classless society, whereas Americans faced an uphill battle, given the vast chasm between rich and poor in that country. [Translation into plain English: Australia does not have America's largely uneducable black underclass. Nor does it have a Hispanic underclass which is not much better]

But the study also found income mobility was a two-way street in Australia. Of sons born to fathers in the richest 20 per cent of the population by income, 17 per cent had slipped into the poorest 20 per cent later in life.


Anger at kindergarten sex lessons

The usual Leftist attempt to debauch children

A PARENT has complained her five-year-old daughter was taught sex education at a school in Hobart and revealed she was assaulted by two boys in her class just after the visit from Family Planning. The claims have prompted calls for the course only to be taught with parental consent. The parent, who did not want to be named, said her kindergarten child had come home and "said the word vagina". "I was shocked," she said. "They were taught what a penis and a vagina was, which I don't think they should in kinder. "I told the principal if I had known anything like that was going to happen, I would have kept my kids at home all week."

The parent said her child told her about the alleged assault when she put her to bed that night. "That's when she told me that two boys in her class had put their hands down her pants, and she said she bashed them," the mother said. "She said it happened in the dolly corner. "There were three adults in the room and 16 kids and no one saw it. She said she did tell the teacher, but the teacher seems to think she did not tell."

Pembroke Labor MLC Allison Ritchie said the allegation would be investigated. "I have had an undertaking from the Education Minister's office that this incident will be fully investigated," she said. Ms Ritchie said she had also heard complaints from people delivering the course, who had turned up to a school in the North-West only to find parental consent had not been sought. She said the children were part of a protective behaviours course.

The complaint parent said her six-year-old and nine-year-old children had all been put through the course. "I never knew it was happening until they all came home and said," she said. "I don't think they should do it at that age, maybe Grade 6 or Grade 7, not kinder and prep. "But the principal said the Government said it was compulsory for kids to learn about their bodies at that age. "They told me that it was Family Planning, they came in to talk to the kids about their bodies, who could touch them and who could not."

Ms Ritchie said all schools should ensure that parents had the opportunity to give their consent and view the content of such courses. "Parents should absolutely be able to opt out," she said. "It is not compulsory for every child. "You might say I am happy for my Grade 7 child to participate, but not my kinder child." Ms Ritchie said most schools were doing the right thing and gaining consent.


A private firm would never be able to get away with this

The NSW Government's defective fleet of natural gas-powered buses will soon be back on the road - but with the same faulty part that forced the squad out of service in the first place. Commuters were forced to wait more than an hour for a service after 200 buses were grounded last year when a broken steering arm on one bus was found to potentially be replicated in the rest of the vehicles. Now the Government is promising to redeploy the buses but with the same - potentially faulty - steering part.

Transport workers have expressed concern over the Government's move, with one online forum of transport workers questioning whether the replacement part is up to scratch. "Presumably the 'replacement stock' is existing product made to the same specs as those which failed," one wrote. Others said the State Transit Authority engineering section had told them the same thing. A spokesman for Transport Minister John Watkins confirmed the replacements parts would be the same specifications as the failed part.

Mr Watkins yesterday said he expected 60 buses would be back on the road by the end of the week and a further 100 additional parts would be delivered by early February. "All replacement parts will be inspected as part of regular service inspections. State Transit will never put buses on the road unless it is sure they are completely safe," he said.

State Opposition transport spokeswoman Gladys Berejiklian said she had safety concerns about the new-for-old replacement parts, given how swiftly the fleet was grounded in December. "Those parts are ticking timebombs and they compromise safety," she said. "I'm concerned newer versions of the part are going in. Given the buses were taken off the road so suddenly and now we are told it's OK to have them on the road. Clearly it was a safety concern so what is different now?"

A Mercedes-Benz spokesman yesterday said the replacement parts should not show the same fatigue cracks, "for at least 200,000km". He said Mercedes was working on a longer-term solution for the buses. "In parallel with replacing these components, Mercedes-Benz will develop and implement a longer-term technical solution," the spokesman said.

The company is paying to replace the part in the entire fleet but a letter from Mercedes to the STA and RTA revealed the buses would have to be regularly tested with a redesigned part not being ready for some time. A letter recommending the gas buses be tested regularly to check they are safe said: "this procedure will give us some time to engineer a new part as a final version. This will take some time as engineering, test and certification have to be performed."


Book publishers goof again

Colleen McCulloch and J.K. Rowling collected a heap of rejection slips in their early days too

Two Sunshine Coast women have hit on the right ingredients for success - all four of them. In one of those meteoric success stories that usually only play out in Hollywood movies, Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham are pinching themselves after their modest, homespun, self-published cookbook 4 Ingredients was announced as a surprise Australian bestseller of 2007.

With 385,000 copies sold, the little unillustrated book of 340 simple recipes each using a maximum of four ingredients was only outdone by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It even beat the highly publicised The Secret by Australian-born television producer Rhonda Byrne (267,200 copies) and Bryce Courtenay's The Persimmon Tree (166,000 copies).

Fast friends since kindergarten in Stanthorpe, McCosker and Bermingham - both 37 with young children - said their success should inspire anyone with a good idea and the courage to back themselves. Rejected by publishers who said there were too many cookbooks around already, the duo persevered and funded their own printing with a first run of just 2000 - then phoned a local newspaper, which ran an article on them.

"Everything just snowballed," Bermingham said. ABC radio did a bit on the book and this was followed by a stint on television's Extra, which was seen by a Big W executive who ordered 2500 copies. Now there's a second book on the way and TV contracts are being finalised. "We wanted something so we just went out and did it," Bermingham said. McCosker said: "All the publishing houses that weren't taking our calls six months ago are now throwing bottles of Moet at us."


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