Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Greens playing politics with fire, say Labor and Coalition

Senior Coalition and Labor MPs have launched a bitter attack on the Greens for suggesting climate change policies are responsible for the catastrophic bushfire threat confronting NSW and Queensland.

As firefighters braced for the arrival of high winds and low ­humidity that threaten some of the worst conditions seen since the Black Saturday bushfires a decade ago, Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale sparked fury from both major parties when he said the ­nation’s emissions policy had caused the fires that killed three people and injured 100.

Senior Nationals turned the ­attack back on the Greens, suggesting that environmental opposition to backburning, particularly in national parks, had exacerbated the bushfire threat.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro criticised his state’s ­National Parks Service for contributing to the catastrophic threat facing the state by failing to carry out extensive backburning in the lead-up to bushfire season.

“We need to do more hazard ­reduction, (burning) in national parks to manage the fuel load,” Mr Barilaro told The Australian. “Everyone knows that this is a real issue and I’ve got the guts to say it.”

Senator Di Natale sparked the row on Monday when he said: “Every politician, lobbyist, pundit and journalist who has fought to block serious action on climate change bears responsibility for the increasing risk from a heating planet that is producing these deadly bushfires.”

Federal Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, who is facing fire threats in his NSW seat of Hunter, lashed the Greens for politicising the catastrophe.

Mr Fitzgibbon said it was ­“absolutely the wrong time to be looking for political opportunity and it’s also hypocritical given the Greens opposed the CPRS (the Rudd government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme)”.

“But if Scott Morrison wasn’t sitting back and allowing emissions to increase every year there would be less political tension in the necessary community conversation about the need to act and adapt to our changing weather patterns,” he added.

Deputy Prime Minister ­Michael McCormack criticised the Greens’ comments as the “disgraceful, disgusting” behaviour of “raving inner-city lunatics”.

The Nationals leader said Australia had experienced bushfires since “time began” and he found it “galling” that people linked the ­catastrophe with climate change. “What people need now is a little bit of sympathy, understanding and real assistance, they need help, they need shelter,” Mr McCormack said. “They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies at this time when they’re trying to save their homes.”

However, Greens MP Adam Bandt said Mr McCormack was a “dangerous fool” who was putting lives at risk through the government’s inaction on climate change.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough; we need science and ­action too,” Mr Bandt said. “They’ve done everything in their power to make these catastrophic fires more likely. When you cuddle coal in Canberra, the rest of the country burns.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd hit out at the Greens’ comments, pointing out it was the Greens who had blocked action on climate change when they ­opposed the CPRS in 2009.

“Seriously? If it weren’t for the Green party’s political opportunism in 2009-10, we would now be 10 years into an emissions trading scheme, a fully functioning carbon price, a long-term transition from coal and leading global action on climate,” Mr Rudd told The Australian.

“Instead, what did the Green party do? To try and score political points off my government, they hypocritically jumped into bed with the Liberals to defeat my legislation in the Senate. The rest is history.”

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall echoed Mr Barilaro’s sentiments, saying: “More needs to be done to clear fire trails, back burning operations and allow controlled stock grazing to keep fuel loads down. Better management would help enormously and lack of good quality local management has contributed.”

Mr Marshall told parliament three weeks ago that he had written to state Environment Minister Matt Kean “requesting a full and immediate review of fire management in the state’s national parks”.

“It is clear that landholders felt that there is a ‘lock it and leave it’ approach to management in ­national parks, which is not good enough,” Mr Marshall said at the time.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said it was “infuriating” the Greens were attempting to score political points by saying the government’s “inaction” on climate change had contributed to fires that had killed three people.

Mr Joyce said climate change action in Australia would do nothing to reduce the bushfire risk ­unless there was also action taken by China, India and the US.

Australia produced 1.3 per cent of the planet’s emissions, compared with China’s 27.5 per cent and the 14.75 per cent that comes from the US.

Mr Joyce, a former deputy prime minister, said people were “once again talking about indigenous land management” because there were too many regulations around controlled burning ahead of bushfire season.

“We haven’t had the capacity to easily access (hazard) reduction burns because of all of the paperwork that is part of green policy,” Mr Joyce said.

Shine Energy chief executive Ash Dodd, an indigenous businessman trying to build a coal-fired power station in central Queensland, said traditional owners had undertaken hazard ­reduction to manage the fire risk “since time immemorial”.

“The responsibility of the build-up of surplus fuel must lay at the hands of state governments which do not allow seasonal burning based upon the traditions and customs of Australian traditional owners such as the Birri people,” Mr Dodd said.

Hazard-reduction burning has also been a contentious issue in Queensland.

A Queensland Audit Office ­report issued last year ­revealed the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services had missed key deadlines to improve the state’s bushfire readiness.

The report, itself a follow up to a highly critical audit of QFES in 2014, had “improved its visibility and oversight” of bushfire risk, ­including establishing the Office of Bushfire Mitigation and area fire management groups. However, the audit office said the authority had not fully implemented any of the original 2014 recommendations despite committing to do so by the following year.


Feminists demonize male sexuality

Bettina Arndt

It’s rather timely that I planned this week to post a video of a talk I gave at the Chicago International Conference on Men’s Issues (ICMI 2019), speaking about the successful feminist campaign to rein in male sexuality.

The campus rape tribunals are the result of effective lobbying by these activists which has succeeded in making university campuses unsafe places for most young men, with any sign of healthy male lust leading to male students being targeted and sometimes thrown out of university.

But campus rape allegations are simply the tip of the iceberg. Men are in trouble for looking at women in the wrong way, for not keeping their trousers zipped, for viewing pornography, for showing normal male sexual curiosity and expecting sex to be part of a loving marital relationship.

Men today are not just chaste – they have been neutered. “Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist,” said Camille Paglia. That’s right. Men are now totally stuffed.

Here’s the new video. I hope you enjoy it.

Via email from Tina:

Our choice is between insansity and survival


We now have a very simple choice. We can join the US — and effectively, also China — in walking away from the Fake Paris Climate Accord and begin the journey back to energy and indeed environmental and even more critical fundamental civilisational sanity.

Or we can join Professor Mickey Mouse and his 11,000 or so decidedly mixed assorted colleagues -7 curiously dubbed "scientists" by the media and run screaming into the streets, crying "the sky is falling" and the "seas are rising" and so "oh, woe is us, we are all going to be squashed between".

The lunacy of the world that we now live in was exactly captured by the gushingly hysterical — or should that be hysterically gushing? — coverage given right across the mainstream media to the fakest of fake news of the climate emergency proclaimed by this fakest of fake cohorts, and the almost zero coverage given to the formal commitment by the US to exit Paris.

I have to say I saw it both as incompetent and biased media as usual, while also being more than a tad surprised. Surprised, as it wasn't the springboard for another immediate eruption of the mass media hysteria, better known as Trump Derangement Syndrome. I waited in vain for the first default to Godwin's Law: indeed, not just comparing Trump to Hitler but how he was so much worse.

After all, Hitler "only" killed tens of millions; Trump has sentenced untold billions to death, if not Gaia herself. Yet there was clearly an apprehension that to even report what the US had done might give heart to those wicked climate unbelievers and indeed could even trigger copy-cats.

President Trump had avowed before his election he would take the US out of Paris. However, the Paris rules signed just days before his election in 2016 meant no country could exit for three years. On the very first day that the US could formally move to draw — last Monday — it will take effect on November 4 next year — the day after President Trump will almost certainly have been re-elected.

The two countries responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the entire world's emissions of the plant-food and planet-greening carbon dioxide will effectively be out of Paris. The US will be actually out and China, whose emissions are approaching double those of the US, will effectively be out.

It is specifically mandated under Paris to keep increasing its emissions to 2030 — by which time, according to noted climate scientists like Greta Thunberg and the aforementioned Prof Mouse, it will be too late. The great irony — and sheer, pathetic lunacy of this is that the US out of Paris has actually been the country which has cut its emissions by more than any other in absolute CO2 volumes.

As the withdrawal statement noted, the US cut its CO2 emissions by 13 per cent from 2005 through 2017. It has also cut its emissions of real air pollutants — like the dirty bits of grit that the climate liars try to pretend is CO2 by calling it "carbon pollution" — by a thumping 74 per cent since 1974. The reason is simple: prosperity, human health and better treatment of the environment are all based on the massively increased use over the centuries of coal, oil and gas.

The only thing that is going to stop China, while in Paris, increasing its emissions, or at the very most plateau them is the Chinese economy going back to a 1980s future.

Now various overexcited local climate loons they might even have been among the 11,000 with the renowned Prof Mouse —were hailing mid-week that for the first time ever, for all of 10 minutes, renewables provided more than 50 per cent of the power into the national grid. An amazing 24 per cent was coming from roof-top solar, some 16 per cent from wind, 9 per cent from large-scale solar and just enough from hydro, 2 per cent, to tip it over 50 per cent Hmm.

What would happen, what happens every day, when the sun goes down? One-third of the grid's power supply would -- correction, will evaporate. And if the wind also didn't blow? Another one-sixth would go missing in action. Suddenly that 51 per cent would become 2 per cent — at least, so long as there was water in the dams.

Oh right: I forgot batteries will be included, including Malcolm Turnbull's Snowy "big battery". Well, that's now going to cost $lObn; and that will get you all of perhaps 2 per cent of the power we need — until again, the water has all run down the hill and is waiting for the wind to blow to pump, it up again.

You are going to need an awful lot of big Tesla batteries to make up for the 33 per cent that was coming from solar, and need it every day. Also, solar doesn't just fall straight to zero at dusk, it falls away rapidly over the afternoon, assuming the sun has been shining in a cloudless sky. But rest assured, once all those Tesla batteries kick in, they'll probably be good enough to get us from, say, 7pm to 7.20pm. And then its lights—and everything else— out, North Korean (and California?) style.

We saw exactly this in the UK during the week. Wind there can produce more than 50 per cent of the power, when the wind is... Well it wasn't for much of Wednesday and so was producing around 3 per cent. The coal the UK supposedly got rid of had to kick in.

Along with so-called biomass, the burning of even more CO2-releasing wood, the two were producing as much as four times as wind for most of the day. Some 60 per cent or so was coming from CO2-emitting gas and 17 per cent from nuclear. That's some renewable future. Our choice: European style insanity or US and China-style reason and survival.

From "The Weekend Australian" of 9/11/19

Tax more at the top if you must, but it ends in tears

Does the top marginal rate of income tax matter? It’s an important policy question.

At this year’s federal election, Labor proposed that the top marginal tax rate should be increased by two percentage points until the budget had been repaired, with its precise duration unclear.

This followed on from the Coali­tion’s initiative of the temporary budget repair levy, introduced in 2014 but rescinded on July 1, 2017. Labor voted for that levy.

The issue flared after the election, with former prime minister Paul Keating arguing for a top marginal rate of about 39 per cent, recalling that he had pulled the top marginal rate down from 60 per cent to 47 per cent in the late 1980s.

Former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty agreed with Keating that the top marginal rate was too high: “If the marginal tax rate is too high, the consequence of that is that people seek to avoid paying that tax and get into other tax arrangements.

“(The) top marginal tax rate is absurdly too high compared to the company tax rate and compared to the capital gains tax. The wedge is simply too great.”

Are they right? Should we be aiming for a lower top marginal tax rate that is 47 per cent, including the 2 per cent Medicare levy? Are other features of the income tax schedule also important?

It’s useful to look at top marginal tax rates in other developed economies, although it’s also important to note the income levels at which these kick in.

Our top marginal rate applies from $180,000 a year, about twice the average wage.

In the US, the top marginal rate is just under 44 per cent but applies above 9.3 times the average wage. Canada and France have higher top marginal rates — 53.5 per cent and 55.2 per cent, respectively — but in Canada the top rate applies to income four times the average wage and in France it is 14 times.

New Zealand has a very distinct income tax schedule. There, the top marginal rate is only 33 per cent but it applies at just over 1.2 times the average wage.

Some left commentators maintain that raising the top marginal rate is desirable because this would reduce the degree of income inequality and would have little impact on people’s economic decision-making.

Economists Thomas Piketty and Peter Diamond maintain that the optimal top tax rate is between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, for instance.

In the US, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat member of congress from New York, advocates a top marginal tax rate of 70 per cent, although it would apply only when annual income reaches $US10m ($14.5m).

The point is made that in the 1950s and 60s, similarly high marginal tax rates prevailed and the sky didn’t fall down. The reality is that very few American taxpayers ever paid the top marginal rate.

The key to the debate is whether high marginal rates affect people’s work efforts and their willingness to invest and take risks. A few natural experiments allow us to reach a conclusion.

In France in 2013, for instance, Francois Hollande, the president at the time, introduced a 75 per cent marginal income tax on annual incomes greater than €1m.

The tax resulted in significant emigration of high-income individuals, with estimates suggesting that at least 22,000 fled in the first two years.

The expected revenue from the higher tax rate also failed to materialise, with tax collections almost half those forecast. Corporate tax and consumption tax revenues also declined relative to expectations.

The tax change was rescinded in early 2015, but some of those who left France never returned.

A more micro-example has emerged recently in respect of doctors working for the National Health Service in Britain. With some poorly considered changes to pension tax arrangements, a number of doctors faced extremely high marginal tax rates if they worked longer hours or, indeed, continued to work at all. In some instances, they could go backwards.

There was a surge of resignations and early retirements, forcing even more resignations as the workload was transferred to other doctors.

Rather than working for the love of the job or to fulfil a public duty, many doctors reacted as most economists would predict — by significantly reducing their work effort. Britain has been forced to adjust these arrangements.

This debate feeds directly into the Australian case, with our relatively high top marginal tax rate cutting in at a relatively low income level.

And because our capital gains tax is levied at an individual’s marginal tax rate, albeit with the capital gain discounted by 50 per cent, it’s possible our tax arrangements deter risk-taking that could lead to substantial capital gains.

Having said this, it’s not only the top marginal tax rate that affects taxpayers’ behaviour. The complication of the low and middle-income tax offset also has an impact.

John Humphreys of the Centre for Independent Studies has shown the most recent tax changes have increased the marginal income tax rate for those earning between $90,000 and $126,000 a year — from 39 per cent to 42 per cent.

The broader point is that when assessing the impact on revenue of tax changes, it’s important to model behavioural changes in response to the new scales and arrangements rather than draw straight lines.

According to Humphreys, the later phases of the government’s tax package will reduce revenue by $145bn across a decade, almost 40 per cent lower than the Treasury’s estimate of the revenue forgone.

“When marginal tax rates are changed, at least some people will change some of their behaviour some of the time,” Humphreys says. “Treasury continues to rely on a static tax model that makes the absurd assumption of zero behaviour changes.”

As Labor reviews the complicated policy package it took to the electorate, one change that needs to be ditched is the increase to the top marginal tax rate, temporary or not.

Labor’s support for the government’s tax package being brought forward, however, has merit.


 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

"A conviction based on one uncorroborated allegation is very rare for a start"

WAS very rare. It soon won't be.