Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tim Blair's lesson for all the student climate protestors

Attention, students. Because so many of you missed Friday’s classes, what with your little climate party and all, today I’m assigning extra work.

Let’s begin with mathematics. 558,400,000 is a really big number. Can anyone here tell me what it might represent? No?

Well, that’s the amount in tonnes of carbon dioxide that Australia emitted last year.

I’ll just pause here for a minute until Samantha stops crying. By the way, Samantha, your sign at the climate rally needed a possessive apostrophe and “planet” was spelled incorrectly, so I’m putting you back in remedial English again.

Where were we? Oh, yes. 558,400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Let’s see how we can reduce that number. Ban coal mining? That’ll knock off a big chunk.

Ban petrol-powered vehicles? Good call. That’s another slab of emissions gone.

Does the class believe we should ban all mining? You do. Interesting. For your homework tonight, I want you all to design batteries that contain no nickel or cadmium.

Good luck getting to school in electric cars without those.

And there’ll be no more steel wind turbines once the iron ore mines are closed. It’s just the price we’ll have to pay, I suppose.

Even with all those bans, however, Australia will still be churning out carbon dioxide by the magical solar-powered truckload. Cuts need to go much further.

More people means more human activity which means more carbon dioxide, so let’s permanently ban immigration. Is the class agreed?

Hmmm. You’re not quite so enthusiastic about that one. Come on, students. Sacrifices must be made.

Speaking of which, how many of you have grandparents? Not any more you don’t.

And Samantha is crying again. Can someone please take her to the school safe space and let her “process some emotions”, or whatever the hell it is you kids do in there? Thank you.

Who agrees we need to simplify our lives in order to reduce emissions? Returning to earlier times, when emissions were much lower, might help save our earth.

So goodbye to air travel, the internet and your cell phones. People got by without them in the past and they’ll survive without them in our sustainable future.

Still, those emissions will be way too high. Just for fun, let’s ban Australia and see what happens.

All factories, houses, streets, farms – gone. All people gone. Every atom of human presence on this land mass, completely erased.

At that point we’ll have finally cut our emissions to nothing. We’ve subtracted an annual 558,400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Congratulations, children. By eliminating Australia, you’ve just reduced the world’s yearly generation of carbon dioxide from 37,100,000,000 tonnes to just … 36,541,600,000 tonnes.

Still, every tiny reduction helps, right? Maybe not. Let’s have a quick geography lesson. Tyler, please point out China on this map. No; that’s Luxembourg. China is a bit bigger. Try over here. There you go.

Here’s the thing about China. How long will it take for China to produce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that we’ve slashed by vanishing Australia? One year? Two years? Five years?

Not quite. Start the carbon dioxide clock on China right now, and that one enormous nation will have matched our annual output by April 5. China adds a whole Australia to the global emissions total every twenty days.

For that matter, China will have added another 1,190,953 tonnes by the end of this one-hour class.

Even a tiny increase in China’s output puts Australia in the shade. Various experts last year estimated that China was on course for a five per cent carbon dioxide boost.

This would mean an extra 521,637,550 tonnes – or basically what Australia generates. Our total is the same as China’s gentle upswing.

So maybe your protest was in the wrong country. Here’s another assignment: write letters to the Chinese government demanding it stops dragging people out of poverty.

Make sure you include your full name and address, because the Chinese government is kind of big on keeping records. Send a photograph of yourself standing in front of your parents’ house.

You might repeat this process in India. In fact, rather than going to Europe for your next big family holiday, prevail upon your parents to visit India instead. The tiny village of Salaidih would be the perfect place to tell slum-dwelling residents they shouldn’t have electricity.

They’ll probably thank you for it. Or they should, if they aren’t stupid climate deniers. Indian paupers must avoid making the same tragic affluence mistakes as us, so we must keep their carbon footprints as tiny as possible.

Can you imagine how terrible is would be for the earth if all of India’s one billion-plus population owned cars and airconditioners? It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

One further assignment: tonight, locate a clean, green alternative source for $66 billion in exports. That’s how much was raised last year by the Australian coal industry.

Working it out won’t be too much of a challenge, I’m sure. After all, you know science and stuff. About half of your signs on Friday claimed you know more about all these things than does the Prime Minister.

Show him how advanced your brains are by devising a brand-new multi-billion export bonanza.

Hey, look who’s back! Feeling better, Samantha? That’s nice. Feelings are the most important thing of all.


Australia's new dole bludger tax: Why YOU will be slugged an extra $3,200 if Labor wins government and increases the Newstart allowance by just $75 a week

Australians could be paying an extra $3,200 in tax to fund a $75 increase in weekly unemployment benefits.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has vowed to increase Newstart but he is yet to nominate a figure.

The Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Council of Trade Unions are both pushing for unemployment benefits to be raised by $75 a week, arguing Newstart had not risen in real terms, adjusted for inflation, since the mid-1990s.

This would see the maximum weekly Newstart payment for singles jump from $278 to $353, or by 27 per cent.

For jobless couples, this would increase  from $251 each to $326 or by 30 per cent.

Government modelling provided to Daily Mail Australia showed a $75 a week increase would cost taxpayers $39billion during the next decade.

In the first year alone, raising the unemployment benefit would cost $2.4billion, blowing out to $4billion a year by 2029.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's April Budget promised $1,080 in tax relief for those earning $48,000 to $90,000 a year but that would be put at risk if Newstart was raised by $75 a week.

It was part of a $158billion package of tax cuts but should unemployment benefits be increased at the level proposed by unions and the welfare sector, Australian workers on median and average salaries would be paying $3,200 more in income tax over the next decade.

During his appearance on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, Mr Shorten vowed to increase the Newstart allowance. 'We're going to review it when we come in, 'cause it is too low,' he said.

The Opposition Leader, however, declined to nominate a figure.  'Commonsense says that a review is going to conclude that that amount is too low,' he said. 'I won't pre-empt it, but I'm not having a review to cut it.'

The Business Council of Australia and former Liberal prime minister John Howard have both called for an increase to Newstart but like Mr Shorten, they haven't nominated a figure.


Super Rugby players in huge public show of support for Israel Folau

Israel Folau appears to have got his wish for Australian Super Rugby stars to support his cause after an emotional post-match demonstration.

Australian Super Rugby players from the Melbourne Rebels and the Queensland Reds have huddled for a post-match prayer amid reports of anger among the game’s Christians over the handling of the Israel Folau social media furore.

Wallabies fullback Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, moved a step closer to being sacked by Rugby Australia this week after he was found to have committed a “high-level” code of conduct breach for a post that said hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.

The case has upset a number of Folau’s Wallabies teammates who share his religious beliefs, with Reds prop Taniela Tupou writing that RA “might as well sack...all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world.”

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier on Friday that Reds and Rebels players had proposed to gather for prayer on field at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in a “show of solidarity” for Folau.

The proposal followed a report that Folau had reached out to Polynesian players in Australia and Japan asking them to show support in his public stand-off with Rugby Australia.

The report claimed Folau had contacted players at every Australian Super Rugby franchise to support his crusade — and many players reportedly, privately want to follow Folau’s lead.

Following the Rebels’ 30-24 win over the Reds, players from both sides knelt on the pitch with arms locked in a circle as Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa addressed the group with emotion.

The huddle included a number of Australia players, including Queensland captain Samu Kerevi, his Reds teammate Sefa Naivalu and another Wallabies winger in Melbourne’s Marika Koroibete.

It is not unusual for Polynesian players from rival teams to gather together in prayer following on-field battles.

According to, Wallabies great Stephen Hoiles said after the game it is unclear if the prayer was a public show of support for Folau.

“We’ve seen this before, it happens a lot and probably in the last couple of years it’s happened more and more,” Hoiles told Fox Sports’ The Kick On after the game. “Whether or not this is specifically for Israel Folau, we won’t know but we’ve seen that before.”

Folau faced a three-member panel over three days of hearings. The panel issued its verdict on Tuesday and said it would consider further submissions before issuing a sanction.

The judgement came more than three weeks after RA and Folau’s Super Rugby club New South Wales Waratahs said they intended to terminate his four-year contract.

Folau has a right to appeal but a high-level breach would be sufficient for RA and the Waratahs to dismiss the 73-test back.

The offending post, which has attracted 54,000 ‘likes’ and 48,000 comments, remains on Folau’s Instagram page.


Labor, hurting business will be a job-killing disaster

Whatever you may think of Bill Shorten’s time as a union official, no one can deny his recognition of the importance of the profitability of the companies he dealt with. To be sure, he was prepared to do the workers in the eye and to accept secret payments for his union, the Australian Workers Union. But the AWU had the deserved reputation as the boss’s union.

Of course, trade unions — and the AWU is no exception in this regard — have never really cared about small business. Helping the workers of small businesses can be time-consuming and the recruitment pay-off is too small to justify the effort.

Trade union officials have relied on the system of conciliation and arbitration as well as compliance agencies to regulate the conduct of industrial relations by small business, even if it is accepted that some workers fall through the cracks.

Now that Shorten is the prime minister in waiting, this acknow­ledgment of the need for busi­nesses to be profitable to underpin improvements in the wages and conditions of the employed workforce has been largely forgotten. The combined assault of Labor’s policy proposals on the financial viability of small business — think: the living wage, the reversion to previous penalty rates, the changes to the taxation of trusts — will have profound implications for ­business.

The changes to negative gearing and the associated rise in the capital gains tax also will affect businesses in the construction, property development and real ­estate sectors.

It’s worth briefly outlining here the principles that should govern tax reform. When changing tax arrangements, the key factors are efficiency, equity and simplicity. If proposed tax changes will lead to serious efficiency losses by significantly shrinking the size of the economic pie, consideration should end.

In terms of efficiency, the rule is to tax the most mobile factor the least and the least mobile factor the most. This is why most economists favour land taxes and recommend that capital be taxed as lightly as possible, particularly in the context of international capital mobility.

After land taxes come taxes on consumption and then taxes on labour (wages and salaries).

This is the core reason Labor’s tax policy proposals are so misguided — they involve substantial hikes to tax on capital while leaving the other factors largely untouched. It is the complete reverse of good policy.

To be sure, land taxes are controlled by state governments. But from an efficiency point of view, the next best move would be to increase the rate of the GST. Now that the distribution of GST revenue across the states and terri­tories is on a more sustainable basis, the preferred policy option would be to increase the rate and some aspects of coverage of the GST while offering compensation to low-income earners.

But let’s face it, Labor won’t have a bar of this sensible policy option, which could pave the way for the elimination or reduction of more economically damaging taxes. It’s hard to see the Coalition implementing such a move either.

The point is often made that Australia is a low-taxing country by international standards. The truth is quite complicated because our 9.5 per cent compulsory superannuation contribution is not counted as a tax; whereas, overseas, the national insurance contributions workers and employers make to fund retirement incomes, inter alia, are counted.

What is very clear is that taxation on labour as a percentage of the total tax take is very high in Australia relative to many other countries.

Workers pay above average income tax rates, and our top marginal tax rate is high and kicks in at a relatively low level of income. Bracket creep remains a problem.

Again, Labor is not planning any reform of the income tax schedule save to increase the top marginal tax rate, a move that has been criticised by Labor legend Paul Keating.

The point here is that the case for increasing taxation on capital is extremely weak, even in the context of Labor seeking to increase the overall tax take as a percentage of GDP to increase government spending on health and education, in particular. There are better ways, but Labor would prefer to damage groups that are not considered to be Labor’s allies — the Chris Bowen “you are perfectly entitled to vote against us” line — than implement sensible policy.

Let me return to the assault on small business and outline the way it will be affected by Labor’s living wage idea. Now Shorten has refused to put a number on the increase in the national minimum wage that is required to meet the description of a wage that will cover the basic necessities of living.

Presumably, the most recent annual increases — 3.1 per cent and 3.5 per cent — awarded by the Fair Work Commission don’t cut the mustard given that Shorten is talking up the living wage concept. The expectation therefore would be increases of at least 5 per cent or more a year for some time to come.

But evidently businesses have nothing to fear, according to the economic fairy story concocted by opposition assistant Treasury spokesman Andrew Leigh, once a professor of economics. In a recent opinion piece that, unsurprisingly, didn’t run in the mainstream media (it was published by Crikey) he makes the ­ludicrous claim that higher wages will help small businesses, including retailers, because “my spending is your income and your spending is my income”.

If it were that easy, there would be no reason wages shouldn’t be quadrupled and quadrupled again. It is, of course, nonsense economics, particularly for an open economy. Unless wages are equivalent to the increase in revenue associated with employing that last worker, then higher wages simply will lead to job losses or fewer hours of work.

Leigh knows this, but it’s just not convenient for him to say so.

Insisting that firms pay much higher wages for their workers provides no guarantee whatsoever that additional revenue will flow to make up for the higher costs.

After all, many workers will use the extra pay — assuming their hours of work remain the same — to pay off debts, to pay the bills and perhaps do a bit of online shopping from overseas outlets. Will the local cafe or the small retailer really find that their revenue surges in line with their higher wage costs?

And just think about the restor­ation of penalty rates to their previous illogical levels before the Fair Work Commission reaching its modest decision to reduce some rates? (Note that the FWC also increased the Saturday rate for casual retail workers, a decision Labor presumably will honour.)

Apart from undermining the independence of the FWC, which has been a key foundation of our system of wage determination, there is no real rationale for reimposing the higgledy-piggledy set of penalty rates without considering this matter more thoroughly. But Labor’s sense of political urgency clearly trumps reasoned economic thinking on this matter as well.

The small business community has much to be alarmed about should Labor win the election. The hope is that Labor will see that hurting businesses is essentially counter-productive and will modify its proposals.

But I won’t be holding my breath.


 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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