Sunday, July 02, 2017

Real estate lessons from Tokyo?

Are those clever Japs beating us in LOWERED real estate costs too

There is a well informed twitter conversation below that seems to have no formally published equivalent as yet.  But it has the basic graphs you need so this might be the first formal treatement of it.  You read it here first!

In Australia's capital cities and in London, Beijing and elsewhere, real estate prices have been furiously bidden up recently.  Young people have been largely priced out of buying their own homes

But the opposite is happening in Tokyo. Prices are dropping, apartment sizes are getting larger and more people are buying their own homes.  And it is capitalism at work.  Welfare housing has shrunk.  And all that is despite an expanding population in Tokyo.

So how come?  Tokyo is reaching for the sky.  Apartment buildings are getting taller and taller.  That scarcely seems wise in an earthquake-prone island but I suppose "You pays your money and you takes your choice" (as the fairground barker said).

And there is something very encouraging for Australia in that.  The same thing is happening in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.   Apartment buildings there were for many years mostly two-story affairs, sometimes 4. Now a whole host of big 8 and 10 story buildings are springing up.  And Australia is geologically stable so that is no problem.


Pre-school.  A CLOSE look at the statistics is instructive

Australian preschools might have seen a rush of enrolments this week after media covered an OECD report claiming children who attend preschool for two years prior to starting school have significantly higher academic achievement at 15.

But perhaps they should have looked more closely at the OECD results. Dig deeper, and you find that in around half the countries reported, the relationship is no longer significant when socioeconomic status is taken into account. Australia is one of those countries.

And the data on which this report bases its claims are retrospective self-report data from 15-year olds-themselves about whether they went to preschool or child care, and for how long — far from rigorous research.

International report cards like this one are all too often based on spurious statistics: a report published by UNICEF last week purported to find that the quality of Mexico’s education system is in the top three in the world, despite its low performance in international assessments. These sorts of reports are given a high profile by major media outlets, and credible organisations issue media statements in support of the findings. Yet they often just muddy the policy waters.

Parents who have had the fortune to find a great preschool or child care centre will attest to the benefits of some sort of early childhood education. Schools in disadvantaged areas, in particular, know that children who have been to preschool or had good part-time child care are generally better prepared for school.

This makes sense and proper empirical research supports it — all children benefit to some extent from a good pre-school education, but the greatest benefits are to children whose home environments are not conducive to strong language and social-emotional development.

However, it does not mean a parent panic of packing three-year-olds off to preschool for fear of ruining their little lives.


Not losing our religion

Findings from the 2016 Census that 30 per cent of Australians report having no religious affiliation have led to renewed calls for an end to state funding for all faith-based organisations.

Rationalists, humanists, and atheists were quickly out of the starting blocks calling for widespread acknowledgement that Australians were, at last, sloughing off the dead skin of religious belief.

‘Hard’ secularists, who dismiss all religion as meaningless and imagine we live in a theocracy, see the Census returns as the green light to finish off the place of religion in Australia once and for all.

One way they want to do this is to force all religious organisations who receive government funding to foreswear the tenets of belief and commit themselves to an entirely secular manifesto.

In other words, Catholic schools can’t be Catholic if they get the government’s dollar; and Christian hospitals need to forget about Jesus if they still want to get funding from the state. God must go.

But this is premature. Remember that 60% — nearly two thirds — of Australians still say they have some religious affiliation. Christianity may be declining, but Hinduism and Islam are not.

Since the last census in 2011, there has been almost a 60% increase in Hinduism; and Islam has seen a 27% increase. Christianity, by contrast, has declined by just over 7%.

But whereas fewer people may go to church on Sunday, religious organisations are still heavily involved in our society. Of the 25 largest Australian charities, 23 are faith-based.

Many schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and welfare agencies, supplying essential services to all Australians, are religious — specifically Christian. And what drives them is religious conviction.

Force them to divorce from their Christian purpose, and those faith-based organisations would quickly fade away and our national life would be the poorer for that.

“Non-belief is the new normal,” said Hugh Harris of the Rationalist Society of Australia. Harris hopes to wave an overdue farewell to what he calls “Christian hegemony” — whatever that is.

Not so fast, Hugh. Despite the protests of the ‘hard’ secularists, religion is not about to disappear from Australia’s liberal, secular society.

Multiculturalism, and our intake of new migrants, means religious faith will still be with us. And people who believe in God will continue to find themselves in the majority for some years to come.


Major Bank Levy a trickery lesson

There have been plenty of attempts to confuse the public over who pays the Major Bank Levy. While it is supposedly a tax on the five major banks of about $1.6 billion per year, it will actually end up being a tax on mortgages, as argued by Australian experts and the international evidence.

This extra tax on households occurs when personal taxes are increasing — including through bracket creep — and wages are flatlining. Businesses interest rates are also likely to rise, which will result in reduced investment; which is already perilously low. And the harmful effect of the levy on GDP could be almost double the harm caused by a personal tax increase of the same size.

But don’t believe the illusion that the levy’s impact is ‘small’. Government should never allow a bad policy to slip through just because it is small, otherwise we would see millions of small but bad decisions implemented — creating an enormous problem.

In addition, the government has rightly condemned a proposed increase in the top personal tax rate to 49%, which raises similar revenue to the bank levy. If this arguably small, but bad, decision can be criticised, so can the bank levy.

And there is another implicit trick in this argument: it assumes the levy will always be ‘small’ in size. However, the levy could easily be increased to more harmful levels — the UK’s equivalent levy was reportedly increased nine times.

Other trickery includes incorrect assertions the levy will: improve bank resilience, help maintain Australia’s credit rating, align Australia with other developed countries, and offset supposedly ‘unfair’ big bank advantages. All these arguments are dissembling.

We don’t need these ongoing lessons in obfuscation. A poor policy such as the bank levy should be seen as such and not be hidden by all these illusionist’s tricks.


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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