Archive for the ‘comments on media’ Category

Oz Liberal party hate others double-dipping, but help upper crust triple-dip

July 1, 2019

Under $255 p.a.  for those below the top of the bottom bracket, $11640 for those on over $200,000 p.a. in the Oz “benefit the workers” tax cuts. Would you believe the Australian Government’s ruling coalition want to spend $102.5 billion for changes benefiting taxpayers including the top 5%, then $41.7 billion for the top 5% alone?

The Liberal/National coalition want to give these tax cuts in 3 lots, shifting tax brackets upwards and removing the top bracket.

Media reports on the three part tax legislation suggest that only the third  part benefits those on $180,000 dollars per year. This is untrue. The 1st part reduces the tax for all taxpayers, the second for middle income and above, and the third benefits only the top 5% of taxpayers.

For the lowest taxable income range,  the low and middle income tax offset is part of the tax system. From 2018-19 it will provide a tax reduction of up to $255 for people with taxable incomes of $37,000 or less.  For taxable incomes of between $37,000 and $48,000, the value of the LMITO increases at a rate of 7.5 cents per dollar to the maximum offset of $1080. Once somebody earns $90,000, the offset phases out at a rate of three cents in the dollar to $126,000.

For the From July 1, 2018, the Government  is increasing the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000, meaning a tax cut of up to $135 per year for those on that range – and giving a tax cut of the full $135 to those above that range. But they also get the tax offfset – reducing by income as they move up the bracket.  The middle of the range get little effective increase.

From July 1, 2022  those on  $90,000 to $120,000 will shift from the 32.5 to the 30% bracket, a tax cut of  $1,350 per year for taxpayers above this level.

By July 1, 2024, people on incomes of $200,000, where the top tax rate of 45 per cent kicks in, will receive $11,640 in annual tax savings – with extra income taxed at 45% if their income is higher.

Meanwhile, the MAXIMUM benefit to the lowest tax bracket, including the tax offset,  is $255 .

There is no increase in the current system for those on below-taxable income such as those on intermittent contracts, who end up on incomes barely above the age pension, or those on benefits.

Consider the cost of this triple-dipping:

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) figures obtained by the Greens, the long-term cost to the federal budget of tax cuts would be as follows:

  • Increase the upper threshold for the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate from $87,000 to $90,000 from 1 July 2018: $6.5 billion.
  • Low and middle income tax offset of up to $530 for individuals with taxable income up to $125,333 for the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years: $15.9 billion.
  • Increase the upper threshold for the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate from $90,000 to $120,000 from 1 July 2022: $36.5 billion.
  • Increase the upper threshold for the 19 per cent marginal tax rate from $37,000 to $41,000 from 1 July 2022: $40.8 billion.
  • Increase the low income tax offset to up to $645 for taxable incomes up to $66,667 from 1 July 2022: $2.8 billion.
  • Increase the lower threshold for the 45 per cent marginal tax rate from $180,001 to $200,001 from 1 July 2024: $9.1 billion.
  • Remove the 37 per cent marginal tax rate, so that all income from $41,001 to $200,000 is taxed at a marginal rate of 32.5 per cent from July 1, 2024: $32.6 billion.

Yes,  $102.5 billion for tax cuts for taxpayers including the top 5%, then $41.7 billion for the top 5% alone.  Under $255 for those below the top of the bottom bracket, $1,1640  for those on the top bracket.

Rather than having the third part of the tax changes, the Government should increase basic benefits such as the aged pension and Newstart to cover the actual cost of living in poverty, and change the basis of future increases from the full CPI (which has been kept flat by decreases in costs for items which the poorest cannot afford) to the CPI for those on benefits – which is already monitored by the Bureau of Statistics. This would make a greater boost to local business than an increased refund for those who can afford overseas holidays.

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Please use the format “Very few X are Y” rather than “Not all X are Y”

May 31, 2019
Once again someone in the media uses “Not all X are Y… ” construction.
I would like to see it called out, and have those calling it out formally ask that people who use the structure rephrase it as – for examples – “Very few men commit murders, but most murders of women are by men;” “Very few men are rapists, but most rapists are men;” “Very few (insert religion here) are terrorists, and most religions have spawned a few terrorists;” and “Very few people drive while drunk.”
– because humans tend to do what they think the majority of their group do, so it is wise to emphasise that wrongdoers are a minority in a group:  that way the likelihood of modeling bad behaviour for that group’s members reduces.
If you don’t believe me, check the research on “nudging.”

Politicians’ high incomes blind them to the reality of the effects of proposed taxation changes.

March 6, 2019

Most of the political claims around the Australian Labor Party’s franking credits tax plans talk about retirees. The pollies have missed the point – which is odd, as they probably own franked shares!  I guess they are just too wealthy to understand what happens to those on low incomes.

But why don’t journalists pick them up on it?

My understanding of shareholding is that shareholders are basically the company’s owners – each share being an equal “share” of the company.  In Australia the company pays tax on its profit to a maximum of 30%.  When the after-tax profits are shared out per share as dividend income to the owners, each has effectively paid that tax on that income. That tax per shareholding is the “franking credit.” For tax, both the dividend and the franking credit together make the shareholder’s income from owning part of the company.

The shareholder’s individual marginal tax rate may be more or less than the rate the company paid – if more, they pay the difference between what the company paid and their rate. If less, they get back the tax they have overpaid.

Consider a person who comes from a very Labor family.  He is single,  has lived quietly and bought shares instead of travelling and partying, and is now  effectively unemployable but too young to retire.  He cannot get unemployment benefits (“Newstart”) as he has paid off his home and has over $258,500 in assets outside the home.  His shares give him about $14,000 in franked dividends, with the franking credits of $6,000.  That is a total of about $385/week – $272 before franking credit refund  – and he gets by on that, nursing the $6,000 tax refund to get past unexpected expenses.  Newstart would be about $275 per week, according to the humanservices.gov.au website.

Under the proposed changes, he will have his effective income cut to $14,000 – cut by almost a third, to less than the  Newstart allowance he cannot get.  At the same time, a federal backbencher on the 2018 base salary of $207,100 a year with dividends of $14,000 will get the $6,000 back as a tax credit, suffering no change to income .

That makes him angry. And it has made me  angry too.

I feel that if Labor really cared about the battlers, it would not do this – if franking credits tax law must be messed with to stop wealthy family trusts and large superannuation holdings from getting big refunds, Labor should change the rules for large holdings, or say that only actual human individuals below median wage equivalent taxable income should get the credits back.  Or they should abandon the refunds altogether.  Not claim that the low income people who get taxed dividends “have not paid tax” and so shouldn’t get the franking credits refunded, insisting that they can only be used to pay tax due for other reasons.

I would like every journalist who has a pollie claim that the low income people who get franked dividends “have not paid tax” call them on that falsehood.

I would like every journalist who has a pollie talk about retirees and superannuation funds as being the only things affected by the proposed changes, or about “franking credits being returned to pensioners”,  do one thing:  ask the pollies “What about the many people who cannot get a pension or Newstart,  but have poverty-level incomes?”

The same could be asked of any who go on about “increasing support  for working families” (say, Liberals saying they will give tax cuts) – I know that many working families have only part-time or irregular work, end up barely taxable, and are not helped by tax cuts.

I think it is time pollies were put onto Newstart for their time in Parliament, to teach them how it feels.

Lies, damn lies, Same Sex Marriage and press responsibility

September 25, 2017

Should there be some requirement for “letters to the editor” to be fact-checked? What is the editorial responsibility if letters misrepresent the law?

Re—–
Subject: Editorial irresponsibility
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2017 12:29:40 +0800

To: letters@sundaytimes.com.au

Dear Editor,

In “Your Say” 24 September, Leslie L Cummings suggested that same sex marriage imperils children, Andre Nel claimed that homophobic bullying is a “red herring,” and ID Smith claimed that legal marriage is required for access to IVF, artificial insemination, and adoption. As the “Indicative Survey” is being seen as a serious vote, and as anti-SSM speakers are verging on calls for children to be removed from same-sex couples, I feel it is irresponsible of your paper to print these letters without an associated factual article citing:

– the statistics which show greater psychological and physical
well-being in children raised by same-sex couples (the opponents of SSM generally cite stats from single-parent families to show ill-effects of lack of one gender in the house),

– recent reports of bullying at school of children of same-sex couples because their parents “shouldn’t have children” or are “unnatural,”

– statements of the legal situation in the various States of Australia, for example, lesbian couples can now start a family using IVF in every state and territory in Australia except the NT. 2014 Australian Census data indicate that 12% of same-sex couples have children (3 % of male couples.)

The amount of spreading of false statements about the welfare of
children and the rights to adoption and parenting is nearing
vilification. I hope someone whose children are bullied, or whose house is vandalised, brings a case under the protective legislation.

FYI, I am in an over-30-year hetero relationship, and have 4 admirable adult children. So no homophobic hatemail, thanks.

When political activism is triggered by falsehoods, what do we do?

November 6, 2016
I was curious about the alleged blasphemy which had been reported as triggering violent protest in Indonesia – none of our local news services cited the inflammatory words.
A bit of googling found several sites saying that it was because a Christian Governor had had electoral opponents citing the Koran to say Islamic believers should not vote for a non-Muslim, and he had responded that the voters were being misled by the use of the Koran verse. More digging found:

According to sites including the Sydney Morning Herald, some Islamic groups had urged voters not to re-elect Ahok, citing verse 51 from the fifth sura or chapter of the Koran, al-Ma’ida, which some interpret as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim. It is often translated as:

“5:51 O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends: They are but friends to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.”

Others say the scripture should be understood in its context – making allies a time of war – and not interpreted literally – its context excludes those who respect the ways and beliefs of Islam. e.g. http://www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/friends.htm and http://seekershub.org/ans-blog/2009/09/07/friendship-with-non-muslims-explaining-verse-551/

I wondered whether it was extreme sensitivity to allegations of anti-Muslim bias which led the newspaper and TV  reports I came across to avoid dealing with the misinterpretation of sacred words as a basis for violence. If so, it is a pity – much of the world’s politics is shaped by invincible ignorance or deliberate lies, and we really need some mechanism for dealing with that.

This is a serious topic which has not been addressed by our parties’ policies.  It is time we wrote to our representatives and called for legislative action to protect the ignorant from falsehoods in the political arena as well as in the commercial world.  Maybe even time to picket or pillory those who are caught out misleading the public.  If they should have known better, if they could have checked with reputable experts, if they chose to speak from ignorance while acting as demagogues – they are as culpable as if they had lied.

In this case it is worse than usual, as the protests could be used by those already nervously aware of the Koran’s approach to those who are not of the Christian or Jewish faiths (why not to be an active atheist or pagan in Indonesia or Dubai…) to fear that Muslims could be led to vote for radical candidates purely on the basis of their faith, and thus destabilise our political system.

Pot, this is kettle… Sunday Times (W.A.) provides resource for English teachers. (3)

April 4, 2016

Sometimes I do tell the Sunday Times of the writing I have found annoying.  An example:

The Editor
The Sunday Times
C/- letters@pst.newsltd.com.au

In your B+S supplement (and, too often, the abbreviation letters are appropriate) of 03 April 2016 page 3, one of the suggestions for a healthier life is “Swap this… book for iPad.”

Reading on, one learns that sleep quality is likely to be better if one reads a paper text rather than reading on a tablet. In Standard Australian English, if I swap this for that, I dispose of this and receive that; if I substitute this for that I use this rather than that. Your paper often uses these incorrectly. In this case, the heading should have read “Swap this … iPad for book.”

This is one of a string of errors and malapropisms which have made your newspaper a valuable teaching resource. I believe that, in your efforts to cut costs, you have outsourced editing to people who are not truly familiar with English. My occasional telephone complaints have been brushed off with “You know what we meant,” and my written corrections have not changed your performance. This shows the general public that “You know what I mean!” is a valid response to criticism of one’s English usage. So why should students bother to learn correct usage?

Although I appreciate the chance to let primary school children correct adults’ published texts – ego-boosting editing practice – I think it is time you spent the money to employ literate editors. THEN you could complain about the quality of teaching in Australia.

Sunday Times (W.A.) provides resource for English teachers. (2)

February 28, 2016

Once again The Sunday Times has provided Western Australian teachers with real-life examples so their students can have the opportunity to criticize adults’ writing.  The best one this week is from the Editorial. (Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by the editor, Rod Savage, 34 Stirling St, Perth, Western Australia  6000 – do send him a letter of thanks!)

In the section headed “Keep Bullies at Bay” (Page 38, News, The Sunday Times, 28 February 2016) the Editor addresses controversy over the Safe Schools scheme, which – acknowledging that ignorance is often behind out-grouping – addresses the range of sexual orientations.  The editorial’s final two paragraphs provide several topics for criticism and discussion:

“Everyone recognises the need to implement strategies to protect all children from bullying.  And that must include students who are gay, lesbian, or transgender.  We should not let these children down just because the scheme doesn’t sit comfortably with some politicians.  We can’t ignore the real risks of suicide and self-harm.  We live in an enlightened society and we shouldn’t incubate schools from that.  Critics say the scheme has highly sexual content which is more about ideology than helping children deal with bullying.

By all means, review the content, but we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Remember, prejudice, fear and by extension bullying, stem from ignorance.”

Comment

  1.  “… we shouldn’t incubate schools from that …”
    In this case, the desired word is probably “insulate.”  Mrs Malaprop had the habit of using fancy words in order to try to appear admirably educated, and (like Kath and Kim) showed her actual class by her incompetence – thus the literate reader’s derision of malapropisms.  However, in the more Hemingway-driven style of the popular press,  a technical term is often used because there is no simpler alternative, so the journalist who is not certain must not rely on the spellchecker.  “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”  is a marvellous tag.
  2. The first paragraph sentence order and sentence division
    “Everyone recognises the need to implement strategies to protect all children from bullying, and that must include students who are gay, lesbian, or transgender.  We can’t ignore the real risks of suicide and self-harm.  We should not let these children down just because the scheme doesn’t sit comfortably with some politicians:   we live in an enlightened society and we shouldn’t incubate (sic) schools from that. ”  Is that a better order?  Is it better to combine the first two sentences by using the comma before  “and” instead of a full stop?  Is the colon a better choice than a full-stop after “politicians”? Why, or why not?
  3. The paragraph break. 
    Would the final sentence of the second-last paragraph  be better as the first sentence of the final paragraph?  Why, or why not?
  4. Remember, prejudice, fear and by extension bullying, stem from ignorance.”
    This is also  worth a class discussion:
    – Why does the author have “by extension” before “bullying”?  – Would “as a result” be better than “by extension”?  Do the answers to the following change if we use “as a result”?
    – Would it be better as “… prejudice, fear, and (by extension) bullying stem …” or as  “… prejudice, fear, and by extension bullying stem …”  or as “… prejudice and fear and, by extension, bullying stem …” or even as  “…prejudice and fear (and, by extension, bullying) stem …” ?
    –  Is the Oxford Comma the best choice here, and if not, why not?
    Why do the suggested alternatives remove the comma between “bullying” and “stem”?   Should the comma remain? Why?
    – Why do the suggested alternatives separate  “by extension” from the surrounding “and bullying”?  Is this necessary? Why?

Thank you, Rod Savage.  Perhaps you could consider these questions before passing such items for publication?

Sunday Times (W.A.) provides resource for English teachers.

February 22, 2016

Australian newspaper editors seem to have decided to follow the advice to journalists “to write at a 7th-grade level” 

Unfortunately, they are printing works at the level of current 12-year-old average output, not at the level a 12-year-old might be expected to read.  This provides weekly items to help teachers develop their students’ editing skills, including reading the surrounding text to infer the probable meaning and then discussing the choice of improved wording.

For example, in a piece on education (I did appreciate the irony) regarding Civics and Citizenship, Claire Dickers wrote:

Education Minister Peter Collier conceded the approach to teaching history had been “ad hoc” for generations.

But, he would be “very surprised” if teachers using contemporary examples within the classroom politics.

(The Sunday Times 21.02.2016, News, page 35)

Comment:

I think it was supposed to mean “if teachers were not also using contemporary examples to teach the basics of Australian politics.”   It may have carried some implication that the use of past examples in teaching politics contributes to students’ awareness of Australian history.

I would prefer “However,” to “But,” as a sentence beginning, particularly as it is a new paragraph.  Had the author written “generations, but he …”  I would not have complained about the conjunction.

Then, on the very next page, a photograph caption  begins:

Fearless West Australian surfer Jarryd Foster has taken on, and defeated, a death-defying wave in Portugal.

(The Sunday Times 21.02.2016, News, page 36)

Comment

I do not think the wave had any inclination to defy death.  The photograph suggested that surfing it might possibly be deadly, and to most of us would be terrifying – and riding it was certainly a death-defying act.  The wave itself, however, seems to be (if one may attribute such things as attitude and awareness of its future to a hydrological event) merely going about its duties in an exemplary, even enthusiastic manner, with no attempt to evade the final cessation of the wave-form.  Surely, the wave was (again, providing one accepts that it can have attitude and awareness) accepting rather than defying its death?

The dissection of a gruesomely malformed creature may be educational, but I would prefer not to have to see such things on a Sunday morning.

Cruz Iowa “big victory”?

February 7, 2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/02/ted-cruzs-interminably-long-iowa-victory-speech-annotated/  said “Ted Cruz won a big victory Monday night at the Iowa caucuses.”   Most Australian media had American talking heads referring to a clear victory and Donald Trump coming second, with little talk of Rubio.

From http://www.iowacaucus.biz/, Marco Rubio took 23.1 per cent, Mr Trump 24.3 per cent and Mr Cruz 27.7 per cent of the vote.

Less than a 5% difference?  In polling terms, that’s experimental error.  In USA political terms, at the start of the long chain of preliminaries in  other – less farm-based – States, this is neck-and-neck.

I think the media have not done a good job of reporting here.  We have the right to feel insulted, and the responsibility to wonder about their hidden agendas.

 

I

August 14, 2015
There are differences between judging others based on their writings, making allowance for the perils of Murphy (Muphry’s Law when one criticises others’ writing) and wishing to be accurate oneself.

The Standard English forms of spelling and grammar were set up partly to facilitate accurate communication, and the standardisation has led us to be able to share the thoughts of people who spoke dialects we would struggle to understand and who lived hundreds of years ago.  We learn our individual forms of written English (as with all languages) through our lifetime’s experiences linking form with meaning.

Accurate (that is, adhering to the Standard form) spelling and grammar are a matter of peacock’s tail (display of energy beyond essentials for survival, thus good genetics) and also a matter of courtesy to the reader (we ought not have to guess what you meant to say.) I do not mind making allowances for those with a learning disorder, but would prefer to rewrite poorly constructed comments with standard spelling and grammar before putting them online. Why? Not mainly for personal display. Not just as courtesy to readers. Largely because online items are, for many students, the main form of reading and writing, and thus the main source of background awareness and practice of spelling and grammar.

Students who have the capacity to learn the more esoteric levels of Standard spelling and grammar are not doing so, and thus are unable to read with ease more complex texts containing very deep concepts and subtle humour. They therefore fail to develop their greater potential depth of understandings and ability to describe complexity as rapidly as was previously possible, when true speed reading (not skimming, but reading well beyond speaking speeds full text perception and comprehension) made access to thought much more rapid than is possible with TED-talk transmission.  They may not develop to their full potential for thinking at all, which is a loss for Humanity.  They also miss out on great ideas and great entertainment – wonderful things which they could translate for the many who have not the potential or the time to read the difficult texts, another loss for us all.
So, as a public service, if you can be correct – do so.