Monday, September 19, 2016

An Australian Mona Lisa?

The picture above is of course of Nikki Gogan being told by the man she loves, that he loves another. 

I very rarely watch TV and I certainly did not watch the show from which the above photo came, but it popped up so often in my news feed in recent days that I began to take notice of it.  And something that seems striking about it is that that photo is far more beautiful than any other photo of her.  She is undoubtedly a very attractive woman but in that photo there is an enigmatic beauty about her that is akin to that of the Mona Lisa.

We normally find a smiling face most attractive yet that is essentially an immobile face.  It is not a sad face or a relaxed face.  To me it is a face in waiting:  Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.  That is probably a rather unusual state to be in so is that why it makes such a strong impression?  That it has made a strong impression is shown by the number of times people have put it up.  I am clearly not alone in finding it a fascinating face.

Another grab of the photo here.  There is also a video of the episode here, which shows her as very gracious even in disappointment.  He missed out on a quality lady there -- as most of Australia seems to think.

Housing Affordability: Increasing Housing Supply Still The Most Effective Solution    
Comment on McKell Institute's Choosing Opportunity, A Blueprint For A Fairer Australia:

"The McKell Institute’s Choosing Opportunity, A Policy Blueprint For A Fairer Australia report is a welcome articulation of the methodology and underlying assumptions that seeks to provide justification for Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax," Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

"The report's modelling does not explain how the current negative gearing provisions are the cause of the housing affordability problem, nor does it therefore provide an evidence-based reason why it is a solution to fixing it," he said.

"In fact, while calling for changes to negative gearing the report at the same time recognises that this would have little impact on housing affordability. More importantly the report recognises the importance of housing supply in moderating house price increases," Wilhelm Harnisch said.

"Part of the modelling wrongly assumes a constant increase in new housing supply of 10 per cent per annum when, in fact, supply is highly variable which has caused house prices to escalate. This has nothing do with negative gearing," he said.

"Master Builders has long been concerned about housing affordability and continues to call on all governments to tackle the structural impediments as the only sustainable solution to improving housing affordability for home owners, renters and other disadvantaged groups in the community," Wilhelm Harnisch said.

"Tackling the structural barriers to increasing the housing supply will also grow the economy, create more jobs and increase our standard of living," he said.

"The report fails to demonstrate that negative gearing is the fundamental cause of rising house prices. Therefore tinkering with negative gearing cannot be at the core of a public policy response to Australia’s housing affordability challenge," Wilhelm Harnisch said.

Press release

Corporate Social Responsibility skin-deep?

'Corporate Social Responsibility' (CSR) is becoming a prominent part of the business of business.

CSR refers to how leading companies seek to burnish their corporate reputations by endorsing social and political issues including gender equality, gay marriage, and ethnic diversity.

Indigenous affairs makes an interesting case study of how deep the commitment to genuine social responsibility actually is -- does CSR often amount to backing invariably fashionable causes while ducking the really hard issues?

Many major companies have implemented affirmative action policies to boost the number of Indigenous employees on staff.

Hiring a 'diverse' workforce will be of some benefit to the burgeoning Indigenous middle class -- who the statistics nevertheless show are generally doing as well in health, housing, employment, education, and other social outcomes as non-Indigenous peers -- including the increasing numbers of people who have only recently discovered their ancestry and identified as Indigenous.

But how much Indigenous disadvantage will these well-intentioned staffing practices really overcome?

Consider the fact that 6% of Indigenous children (approximately 15,000 children) have had to be removed from their families due to abuse and neglect, and currently live in state care. This figure is even more shocking given that only 100,000 or so of the 670,000 Indigenous Australians live in the rural and remote communities with the worst social problems.

I believe, based on the findings of my research, that we will never 'close the gap' unless more Indigenous children are rescued from squalor and are adopted (on a non-discriminatory basis) by either an Indigenous or non-Indigenous family.

Indigenous adoption is, of course, a taboo subject in the wake of the apology for the Stolen Generations. Therefore, speaking out on the subject of Indigenous child welfare entails not only advocating for otherwise advocate-less children, but also involves copping flak for supporting ill-deservedly unpopular issues and causes. In my opinion, this kind of unfashionable advocacy is thus an act of profound social responsibility.

But I wonder if corporate Australia would agree, and would wish to run the reputational risk of associating their brands with as important but contentious an issue as Indigenous adoption?

If these doubts are fair, then a fair judge might conclude that the corporate commitment to social responsibility is somewhat skin-deep.


Cut company tax like we did tariffs
The Australian Treasury has stated that company tax is similar to a tax on imports of foreign capital. They argue Australia has benefited from tariff cuts and we will similarly benefit from cuts to the 'tariff' on imported capital. The reforms to common-variety tariffs have made cars, clothing and electronics cheaper, improving our standard of living, and have reduced a hefty tax on business inputs. The benefits have been shown in numerous studies.

But Australia is still lumped with the one remaining sizable tariff on foreign investment - through company tax. And unsurprisingly, there are numerous studies showing the benefits of cutting this tax. Treasury has found that the tax cut will lead to an improvement in GDP of around 1%, and a gain to national income of about 0.7%.

Some argue this isn't much, but it is in fact quite substantial, as Treasury has argued: the gain to GDP is only slightly less than the benefit from all the major telecommunications, ports and rail reforms in the 1990s, which lifted GDP by about 1.25%.

The tariff debate didn't hinge on whether tariff cuts were budget neutral: and we should apply the same logic to company tax cuts. And tariff reform wasn't cancelled because government funds needed to be spent in other areas such as education. Again the same logic should apply to company tax.

We didn't see many people argue against tariff cuts because they caused windfall gains to foreigners, and that approach should guide the debate on company tax. The tariff cut debate instead focused on which businesses and workers gained and lost, and this could apply to company tax: fortunately for workers, research finds that they gain the greatest benefit from a tax cut, a point acknowledged by the ALP's Chris Bowen and Andrew Leigh.

So let's remember the lessons from economic history and reduce the burden of company tax now.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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