Thursday, November 21, 2019

An addled attack on the elderly

The comments below were front-paged on some News Corp sites on 20/11/19.  They are all the more disgraceful for coming from an economist, Jason Murphy, -- who should know better. They are just an attempt to stir up hatred of the elderly. One gathers Jason is a rather young economist.

His little trick is to refer to people in their 60s and 70s as "Baby Boomers".  But let's call a spade a spade and refer to them as elderly.

He says that the elderly are on a gravy train.  Lots of men die in their '60s. Is that a gravy train?  Their widows certainly don't think so. Those who do not die very often develop health problems.  Is bad health a gravy train?

He talks of franking credits as gravy but that is just a Leftist smear put about by socialist failure Bill Shorten.  Franking credits are a refund of overpaid tax, nothing more, nothing less. And the system was devised in 1987 by Paul Keating, no friend of the rich

And is superannuation gravy?  It reduces payments to pensioners.  Is that gravy?

And elderly people on holiday are apparently particularly reprehensible. But many of them are people who took very little in holidays so that they could save up to have one big holiday after retirement, when they would be relaxed enough and have time enough to enjoy it fully.  Is postponing your holidays gravy?

It is true that for many elderly the family home is rather empty after the children have moved out but the owners concerned spent many years paying off a mortgage to have that home.  Should they be denied what they sacrificed for? Should they be denied a bit of ease and comfort after many years of scrimping.  Is scrimping and saving gravy?

And the family home is often retained as a place of refuge if any of the children get into financial or other trouble. The home really is retained "for the children". It is an important fall-back option in times of trouble.  Is it gravy to provide that?  Or should it be only the taxpayer that provides for people in strife?

The writer also says we should have a resources tax.  Julia Gillard could tell you about that idea.

Australia’s Treasurer has been out and about this week justifying the need for a surplus by talking about the “economic time bomb” that is our ageing population.

Yesterday, Josh Frydenberg told young people they will have to pay for the retirement of the old as we have fewer and fewer working age Australians to support each old one.

It was an impassioned speech, but it ignored one key thing — Baby Boomers, aged 55-75, have a sweet ride on a gravy train consisting of franking credits and loopholes in superannuation and pension rules.

Australian households aged over 65 have 2.5 times as many assets and 16 per cent as many liabilities as those aged 25-34, according to official data.

Their average net worth is about $1.4 million.

But there’s no urgency whatsoever from the Treasurer to tax them more fairly. He’s let a hundred terrific opportunities go by to tighten the screws on Australia’s luxury generation, from franking credits, to the pension age, to superannuation.

The older generation is all over Facebook these days and they’re filling it up with holiday photos from yet another terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean or the Adriatic coast.

As we glumly scroll past them, we have a right to feel aggrieved to hear the fiscal obligation of Australia is ours.

Younger Australians should utterly reject the false burden being placed on their shoulders by a Treasurer too gutless to tax the boomers fairly.

“If we don’t remain fiscally disciplined today, the next generation will have to pick up the bill tomorrow,” he told the Business Council yesterday.

This is the line Mr Frydenberg is pushing as he seeks to justify his surplus. It seems so simple. Almost a truism.

But it disguises a set of entirely optional choices that helps one generation live in near empty multimillion-dollar homes and collect the pension, while many in the younger generations are locked out of the housing market and paying off enormous higher education debts.

Both parts of the seemingly benign statement involve pain falling on younger generations. Fiscal discipline falls principally on the young, while the boomer cohort romp merrily through a world of superannuation tax discounts and pensions that rise faster than inflation.

The Treasurer is talking about putting older Australians to work. But don’t assume this means bringing the current crop of older Australians out of retirement. He’s not talking about the current retired generation. He’s talking about making people work longer in future, i.e. just another way to make the burden of today’s generosity fall on a younger cohort.

Four times the Government has made choices that could have evened up the burden and saved the Budget.

For example, Australians of pension age face a “means test” that determines if they are eligible to collect the pension. It determines if they have “the means” to look after themselves — after all, it doesn’t make sense to give the pension to a retiree with $2 million in cash and shares. But the Government chose to leave the principal place of residence out of the means test. A retired couple living in a $2 million home can still collect their combined $1282 a fortnight. (You even hear rumours of people upsizing their home in order to reduce their cash holdings and qualify for the pension.)

The Government has begun a major review process of retirement incomes. But Finance Minister Matthias Corman neutered it before it even got going, promising in October it “will not lead to any change”.

The Government scrapped existing plans to lift the pension age from 67 to 70.

Franking credits, mean if you own shares in a company and you pay no tax, you get a check refunding you for any company tax that company paid. That benefits retirees disproportionately. Labor wanted to change the rules on this at the last election and lost in part because of it.

The electoral mathematics behind these choices are apparent. Younger voters tend not to vote for the Coalition while older voters are more prone to. Polls at some points have shown a dramatic generational divide from 60-40 to Labor among the young (18-24), to 60-40 to Coalition at the other end of the age spectrum (65+).

Of course, while generational war wages, certain corporations are enjoying the fireworks. Boomers might get a nod and a wink from the Treasurer but resources companies get all that and more.

It didn’t have to be a battle between young and old. There are other entities you can tax. Norway socked away $US1 trillion in assets in its sovereign wealth fund by levying taxes on the exploitation of its enormous oil resources.

Australia, you will remember, proposed a resources super profit tax that would have taken the cream off the top of the profits of the massive mining and extraction companies when the price of coal and iron ore were high. Instead those extra profits from digging up Australias dirt resources went to the owners of those companies, many of which are based offshore.

So while the generations go to war, don’t forget that it didn’t have to be this way.


Taxpayers fleeced, betrayed as unis ponder why Christ born a man

Australian universities are abandoning their role as custodians of Western civilisation in favour of a seemingly endless obsession with identity politics.

I wrote recently about the University of Sydney’s Resurgent Racism project, a flagship program that provides taxpayer funds to academics so they can berate Australians for supposedly being racist.

But it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taxpayer-funded identity politics research.

A new report by the Institute of Public Affairs has confirmed the extent to which our universities are fixated on class, race and gender — and just how much Australians are paying for it.

The Humanities in Crisis: An Audit of Taxpayer-funded ARC Grants found the Australian Research Council’s national competitive grants program has distributed $1.34bn in funding to humanities research since 2002.

These projects cover historical studies, linguistics, cultural studies, human geography, and communication and media studies.

According to the ARC, its purpose is “to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community”. It also claims “the outcomes of ARC-funded research deliver cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians”.

So, has the research of the past 17 years done that and helped ensure our success as a prosperous, peaceful and stable nation?

Not quite. What the audit reveals is academics spending millions on projects that are narrow, incomprehensible and reflect the obsession with identity politics, cultural studies, critical theory and radical feminism.

At Macquarie University academics received $391,000 for a historical studies project called Sexing Scholasticism: Gender in Medieval Thought, which explored “medieval theological debates about why it was necessary that Christ was born as a man”.

Academics at the University of Sydney were awarded $735,000 for a cultural studies research project called Reconceiving the Queer Public Sphere: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Same-Sex Couple Domesticity. By “critically analysing queer home life” the project would “transform current understandings of the relation between homosexuality, private life and the public sphere”.

The ARC awarded the University of Melbourne $100,000 for a cultural studies project examining Female Stardom and Gay Subcultural Reception. And James Cook University was given a bumper $2.7m for a cultural studies proposal, How Gender Shapes the World: A Linguistic Perspective, the authors claimed would “enhance our nation’s capacity to interpret and manage gender roles in multicultural contexts”.

The preoccupation with identity politics is especially notable in historical studies.

There have been 616 such research proposals to have received funding since 2002 — with the total cost amounting to $192m.

The most common theme is “identity politics”, with 112 of the proposals focusing on the leitmotivs of class, race and gender.

The second most common theme is “indigenous history and studies”, with 99 projects, while the third most common, “war and conflict” attracted 88 proposals. In contrast, there are only three research projects that talk about the rule of law and a solitary proposal examining free speech.

This shows our universities are not interested in the history or values of institutions that are essential to understanding Australia’s present and shaping its future.

As curators of Western civilisation, academics have a duty to look after some of society’s most valuable material. But two decades of ARC funding shows they are neglecting their duties.

Having bought into the postmodernist notion that Western civilisation is a white patriarchy, they have released themselves from the obligation to study the Western canon. Aristotle’s thoughts on the meaning of tragedy are apparently irrelevant, as are Shakespeare’s observations of human nature and John Stuart Mill’s views on democracy. There is a great deal that universities could pick up from Machiavelli when it comes to the problem of free speech on campus.

Today’s academics mostly believe there is nothing we can learn from the 2500 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge passed down to us by those who have lived before us. This arrogance was articulated by academics at the University of Sydney when they rejected the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s proposed curriculum, which at the time was derided as “structurally, institutionally, morally and epistemically violent to other knowledges” and summarily dismissed as “white supremacy writ large”.

By rejecting the Western canon, academics not only are depriving university students of their dues but they also are depriving us all of the intellectual and moral nourishment that only the humanities can provide. Academics are no longer interested in properly feeding the society that ultimately feeds them.


Big blow to animal activists

CONTROVERSIAL animal activists Aussie Farms — which Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled "grubs" for publishing an interactive map showing farms and abattoirs — have had their charity status revoked.

It comes after the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was urged by the Federal Government to launch an investigation into the group last year. The Aussie Farms website sparked Outrage and calls for trespass laws to be strengthened when it provided the exact location of farming properties and encouraged vegans and activists to upload photos of what they believed was cruelty to animals.

In days of action earlier this year, activists stormed properties, sparking concerns there could be retaliation by land-holders at the end of their tether.

Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Zed Seselja told The Courier-Mail that he welcomed the decision. "The Government recognises the special place that charities occupy in Australia, and it is important that charities recognise their privileged position and do not take advantage of it," Senator Seselja said.

Without charity status Aussie Farms loses its tax concessions endorsement, including income tax exemption, GST concessions and FBT concessions.

From the Courier Mail of 19/11/19

Religious freedom bill: Christian Porter expands bill to protect hospitals, aged care providers

Christian Porter will grant religious hospitals and aged-care providers the same protections as faith-based schools and organisations to employ staff according to their beliefs in his final religious discrimination bill.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, the Attorney-General confirmed he will apply the same level of protections for religious health and aged-care companies, which were not included in the draft bill released on August 29.

Mr Porter, who has held two-hour consultation meetings with more than 90 stakeholder groups since releasing the draft legislation, said religious hospitals and aged care providers should have the “ability to take into account religion in staffing decisions”.

He said religious hospitals and aged care operators had stressed the importance of retaining a “religious ethos and culture” within their organisations and had “reasonably sought an exception to the general prohibition on religious discrimination in employment that allows them to make staffing decisions in accordance with their faith”.

“The religious hospitals and aged care providers themselves recognise that competing objectives of providing access to health services and maintaining a faith-based identity must be reconciled, and seek to maintain the balanced position they themselves have arrived at reflected in the bill,” Mr Porter said.

“In the Bill that will be introduced, I can flag that one significant change from its first draft will be that religious hospitals and aged-care providers will be given protections equivalent to those given to other religious bodies, in relation to employment of staff.”

Mr Porter said consultation with religious hospitals and aged care providers had made clear that they do not “make decisions about the admission of patients based on any given patient’s religion or absence of religion, and do not seek to do so”.

“Likewise for aged care providers (with very few exceptions) they do not appear to consider religion or lack of religion before making a decision to accommodate a person,” he said.

No deadline for final vote as Senate inquiry looms

Mr Porter, who will table his final bill in parliament before December 5, confirmed he had no deadline for a final vote in parliament to push through the religious discrimination bill.

The Australian understands the legislation is likely to be referred to a Senate inquiry, and drag well into next year.

Responding to criticism from the nation’s most powerful religious groups, Mr Porter said he was seeking a “stable result and better outcome than the circumstance we have at the moment”.

“It would be a bad outcome if everyone felt that they got everything that they wanted out of this process. It is ultimately the most grinding process of balance and compromise.”

Mr Porter said he didn’t expect all religious groups and stakeholders to be “deliriously happy” once the process was finalised.

“If you imagine a continuum of happiness that goes from very unhappy to deliriously happy somewhere on that continuum is endorsement. Where while the bill doesn’t do everything that everyone might like, people nevertheless think that it’s at a reasonable point that’s worth supporting.”

Discretion ‘not viewed as discriminatory’

Mr Porter said a “particular challenge in the religious context is freedom of association”.

“Where we seek to protect people from being excluded because of their religion, we equally recognise that for religion to exist at all; religious bodies must be able to maintain a chosen level of exclusivity to their premises or composition or services.”

“For instance a religious school may admit students of many faiths or it may prefer students only of its own faith; but that discretion is not viewed by other faiths as discriminatory because they understand and accept its existential importance to all faiths.”

Mr Porter, tasked by Scott Morrison to deliver the Coalition election pledge to deliver the religious discrimination bill, said the draft legislation had adopted a “broad approach” informed by the exception in section 82 of the Victorian legislation.

“The effect is to preserve the status quo whereby a defined religious body can, in dealing with the exclusivity of its premises or composition or services, apply its own determination of the best application of its own doctrines and beliefs; and does not discriminate by acting in good faith on that basis.”

“So, for example, in Victoria it would not be discriminatory for an Islamic school to decline to employ catholic teachers (or vice versa). Or for the same school to decline to employ an irreligious person.

“For the avoidance of any doubt it cannot be stressed enough that this type of exception for religious bodies applies only in respect of decisions on matters of religious doctrine that pertain to people of different religious beliefs.”

Mr Porter confirmed his bill did not “affect the current exemptions that exist for religious bodies within other Discrimination Acts, at either State or Commonwealth level”, which has attracted criticism from religious and other groups in their submissions to the Attorney-General’s Department.

‘People will disagree’

He said religious groups had stressed to him during the consultation process that the “definition of religious body is important because of the reasonable autonomy it provides any organisation that falls inside its ambit”.

“One thing is clear, people will disagree on which rights are more important than others and where to draw the lines between them. Consultations, while constructive, inevitably end at a point where it is factually obvious that freedoms collide.”

“The unavoidable fact is that the colliding nature of rights means there is simply no way to exhaustively define their boundaries with each other in a way that sees them perfectly contour with neighbouring rights.”

Mr Porter said freedoms to associate would need to be balanced “against the right for individuals to access places and institutions free from the arbitrary exclusion of others”.

“In a structural sense the four existing Commonwealth Discrimination Acts dealing with race, sex, disability and age actually give expression to the most traditional conception of rights.” “That laws should protect us from others infringing on our natural rights as far as is reasonable.”

He said a balance needed to be struck “between anti-discrimination clauses of any type and other rights including rights to free expression and free association”.


 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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