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Saturday, 27 February


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Friday, 26 February


Public debt is not the issue — that's just a neo-con scare campaign Independent Australia

Public debt is not the issue — that's just a neo-con scare campaignIt's time public and policymakers refocus on and rein in private sector debt instead of worrying about public debt which amounts to little more than a neo-con scare campaign. Economist Philip Soos explains. read now...


What is it with government and dodgy regressions? Catallaxy Files

I have caught the Australian government producing dodgy regressions before; here and here. I’ve caught the Australian misinterpreting good regressions before too.

Then there is the Tobacco PIR analysis.

It is contained in Appendix A to the PIR.

So first things first. What does the analysis report?

To measure the effect of the packaging changes on smoking prevalence, I adopt a widely-used approach in policy analysis often referred to as “before-after” regression analysis. My analysis relates an individual’s decision to smoke to a set of explanatory variables, including sociodemographic factors and controls for tobacco control policies (including the policies governing plain packaging and enlarged graphic health warnings) that are widely believed to influence individuals’ decisions to smoke. There are two important features of this analysis. First, it disentangles the effects of multiple factors that may simultaneously be influencing the observed outcome. Second, it identifies the effect of the packaging changes by comparing smoking behavior before the policy to smoking behavior after.

So far, so good.

The analysis makes use of Roy Morgan data and shows a time trend.


A bit dodgy – the analysis does not test to see if a linear trend is appropriate or not. These things are...


Tobacco PIR shifts the goal posts Catallaxy Files

The long over-due Post-Implementation Review into Plain Packaging has been very quietly released today.

Many thanks to the Pubic Health Association of Australia for notifying us of the release – the Department of Health itself has no mention of this at its website. I was particularly interested to see this:

PHAA Tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian Government’s Expert Committee that recommended plain packaging said, “This is great news for everyone except Big Tobacco. It shows clearly that the legislation is more than meeting its objectives. We know that smoking in adults and children and cigarette sales are declining, but it is especially rewarding that this meticulous independent analysis attributes part of that decline to plain packaging alone, even within its first three years”.

That is a very important consideration. The reforms in 2012 consisted of two changes:

  1. Standardised packaging (so-called plain packaging); and,
  2. Increased size of warnings on packages.

This is how the Department of Health currently describe the PIR (emphasis added):

The Department of Health has engaged Siggins Miller Consultants Pty Ltd to undertake consultation with stakeholders that have been impacted by the tobacco plain packaging measure and to conduct a cost benefit analysis of the measure to inform the development of a Post Implementation Review (PIR). The consultation period runs from 16 February 2015 to 27 March 2015.

In the online questionnaire that Siggins Miller Consultants Pty Ltd deployed in their consultation, this is what they said:


Trump on immigration Catallaxy Files

I found this on Facebook – very funny.

Trump on immigration


Government propaganda on the TPPA No Right Turn

Having signed a "trade deal" in secret with no public mandate, the government is now compounding its abuse by spending $500,000 on "promoting" it to the public:

Figures released to ONE News by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade reveal officials have budgeted $495,000 for a series of 16 roadshows and hui across the country.

It works out at $23,750 per meeting and MFAT says that will cover venue hire, accommodation, transport and other costs. The remaining cash will cover other communications about the TPP.

MFAT says it is preparing to accommodate several hundred guests in the Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington events. It said registrations "are tracking well" but didn't respond to a request for exact numbers.

But what's the purpose of these roadshows? The TPPA doesn't impose new obligations on citizens, or make us eligible for new entitlements. And to the extent that it does - for example around extended copyright terms, or reduced access to pharmaceuticals - those changes will of course be the subject of their own advertising campaigns when they occur. Instead, this money is being spent to convince voters that signing the TPPA was a good idea, that the government made a good political choice, and that we shouldn't hold National accountable at the ballot box for it. And that's not "raising awareness"; its government propaganda!

Its also of questionable legality. The guidelines for government advertising are spelled out in the Cabinet Manual. The short verison:
Government advertising should deal with matters in which the government has direct responsibility. The objective of the advertising may be to:
(a) inform the public of proposed/new/...


In which the pond salutes our very own Bunterish Colonel Blimp down under ... loon pond

(Above: and you may Greg Hunt the notion of 'travesti' here, but be careful of walri straying up from the south).

The pond has become seriously alarmed in recent times.

What if all the recent talk led to men and boy actors imagining they could play women and girls? Or even more shockingly, the notion that women might don pants and play men? Or boys ...

Why the very fabric of the world might crumble.

The pond was shocked and startled at the news that only a few blocks away from where it lives, the perverts were having their way with innocent young folk at a school in Newtown, as you may read at the ABC, as it gives space to the ACL here...

Imagine: a man playing Lady Macbeth, or even more incomprehensible, a man playing Portia. What's that you say? Women playing Hamlet?

How would it be if the daughters in Lear were to be played by men? What to make of the Queen and Ophelia being played by men? Fancy the comedies being filled by gaily clad men going about the business of cross-gender jokes ...

Haven’t we had enough of this gender confusion and chaos? What would happen if a young boy was called upon to play Juliet? Why to be true to character the poor lad wou...


Dinner chat with PM was about Tasmania’s bid for LAND 400: Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie raised the issue of which state was going to build the Australian Army’s new Land Combat Vehicle System  (LAND 400) during her dinner with Prime Minister at the Lodge.

“During my conversation with Prime Minister Turnbull I mentioned that it would be a good idea if he brought to Tasmania, his federal Cabinet and announced that Tasmania’s bid for the contract to build the LAND 400 was successful,” said Senator Lambie.

“Despite the fact that we’ve lost manufacturing jobs in heavy vehicle building to other countries, North Tasmania has the capability, know-how and skilled workers to build the Australian Army’s new Land Combat Vehicle System.  And I let the PM know over dinner that Tasmania wanted that important defence contract,” said Senator Lambie.

“ I realize that a process has to be followed with this defence contract, however at the very least, I want Tasmanian businesses to be included on the LAND 400 official tender short list when it’s announcement is made in March,” said Senator Lambie

“Tasmania ‘s North and North West desperately need good news regarding manufacturing and jobs – and I told the PM that we want this vital project,” said Senator Lambie

The post Dinner chat with PM was about Tasmania’s bid for LAND 400: Lambie appeared first on Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST.


Baby Asha: How you can support her Independent Australia

Baby Asha: How you can support herNeuropsychiatrist, Dr Steve Stankevicius, who recently worked at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital looks at how we deal with our naturaly empathy towards asylum seekers, in particular, baby Asha. read now...


The solution to Auckland's housing problem No Right Turn

Phil Goff has (a significant chunk of) the solution to Auckland's housing problem: turn the Remuera golf course into new homes:

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff is eyeing the Remuera Golf Course as a possible site for thousands of new houses.

He wants the sale of the Auckland Council-owned land to be discussed, and he doesn't care that the Prime Minister plays there.


Developers say the land could be used for up to 8000 houses and apartments if the entire 200ha-plus area was made available, easing the city's chronic shortfall of about 30,000 homes, the Herald reported last year.

The golf course is public land, but not public space. Instead, the rich have exclusive use of it, for which they pay a peppercorn rent and are effectively subsidised $16.5 million a year. A combination of low-income housing and public parks would be a far better use for that land. Alternatively, if the uber-rich want to continue to keep it for themselves, they should be made to purchase it.


ACT's "proud green history" No Right Turn

This morning's joke: ACT is trying to talk up its environmental credentials:

Act wants the green vote - arguing its ideology is the best bet to save the environment and the party's proud green history has been ignored.

Leader David Seymour, who as a child was a member of the Kiwi Conservation Club and successfully campaigned for aluminium recycling at Whangarei's Maunu Primary, said it irked him that Act's environmental credentials weren't better recognised.

"We just maybe haven't done enough jumping up and down like the Greens. We have had the sausage and they have had the sizzle."

Right. This would be ACT, the party that advocated farming kiwi. ACT, the party which wants to repeal the RMA and leave the environment defenceless. ACT, the party which supported digging up our national parks. ACT, the party which was identified as the biggest barrier to reducing carbon emissions and whose climate change policy was (until late last year) that it wasn't happening and that they shouldn't do anything about it even if it was. If this is a "proud green history", I'd hate to see one they're ashamed of.

ACT is not interested in saving the environment. Rather, at every opportunity they have argued for its unmitigated destruction for the private profit of the few. If there was a party for orcs, it would be ACT.


The OECD and IMF are economic cranks Catallaxy Files

In February 2009 Quadrant published my article on The Dangerous Return to Keynesian Economics. There you will find the following:

Just as the causes of this downturn cannot be charted through a Keynesian demand-deficiency model, neither can the solution. The world’s economies are not suffering from a lack of demand, and the right policy response is not a demand stimulus. Increased public sector spending will only add to the market confusions that already exist.

What is potentially catastrophic would be to try to spend our way to recovery. The recession that will follow will be deep, prolonged and potentially take years to overcome.

I also immediately began work on my Free Market Economics which I am now about to complete its third edition. Here is how the second edition is described:

The aim of this book is to redirect the attention of economists and policy makers towards the economic theories that prevailed in earlier times. Their problems were little different from ours but their way of understanding the operation of an economy and dealing with those problems was completely different. Free Market Economics, Second Edition will help students and general readers understand the economics of that earlier time, written by someone who believes that this now-discarded approach to economic thought was superior to what is found in most of our textbooks today.

Nothing that has occurred in the seven years since the GFC has been anything other than what I expected. As certain as I was then that Y=C+I+G is the road to economic disaster, nothing I have seen since has done anything other than strengthen my belief that Keynesian theory is wrong in every particular...


Turnbull sells out young people to the deranged, to save himself No Place For Sheep

    One of the (many) problems I see with religious ideology is that it offers people whose intelligence and experiential curiosity is limited by cowardice and fear, a socially legitimised avoidance of the challenges of thinking differently. This is what we’re witnessing in the current outburst of venomous denial expressed by Cory Bernardi, George Christensen, […]


Tax: Everything on the wrong table Independent Australia

Tax: Everything on the wrong tableIf we’re going to have an election about tax, Mike Dowson suggests we’d better get our facts straight first. read now...


Guest Post: Analysis of Labor’s Negative Gearing Policy – Hydra Catallaxy Files

It’s very easy to look at Labor’s negative gearing policy and laud the proposal, which purports to make housing cheaper for Australians who are attempting to get a foot in the door.

Labor’s idea is to force homes to become cheaper by removing negative gearing on established homes, and in the same swing attempting to force investors to instead build new homes, still eligible for negative gearing, thus theoretically increasing the supply of housing and driving prices down. The intent is meritable.

But is it really that simple? Or are the consequences more sinister than we are led to believe? It is a policy that even supporters would admit appears to be a kneejerk reaction based on media-driven populism.

From a purely microeconomic standpoint; I argue that entering the market as a first home buyer will only get harder and more expensive if Labor’s policy is adopted (as opposed to the status quo, or abolishing negative gearing altogether, of which the merits of both are outside the scope of this article).

Firstly, already established properties will have future negative gearing removed. Labor believe that this will decrease house prices because there will be lower demand for the housing (fewer investors will want to buy). However, this makes several bold assumptions which are yet to be shown to be true:
- That investors’ primary reason for investing in property is to negatively gear (it is not, the primary reason is future capital gains); and
- That investors have no other way of clawing back their lost income that they had under negative gearing (they can: they can increase rent prices, or reduce maintenance expenses).
Secondly, Labor have grandfathered properties that are already negatively geared. Policymakers have failed to take into account the fact that there is now an enormous disincentive to sell your established property, and as Greg Mankiw would rightfully explain to us, people res...


In which the pond puts the bigot out to pasture and joins Maurice in the magic garden with the stigmatic gentle giant ... as we impatiently await our knighthood ... loon pond

As it seems retrospectivity is now all the go, in matters of taxation and otherwise, the pond might mention the recent apocalyptic shaming of Paul Sheehan, with an apology for ignoring it, while offering a triumphant justification.

In recent times, the pond has ignored the magic water man, with his columns increasingly rambling, eccentric and bizarre. If you look at his Fairfax tag here, you might range from headlines such as The fate of one small mouse hints at a huge problem for Australia to We are losing dogs and cats, and it is a great loss.

The man was clearly and deeply unhinged, and increasingly desperate to produce click bait copy of the Is Malcolm Turnbull insane? kind

The pond was tempted to note his moan about A sorry tale of dealing with Telstra's 'customer service' because he carried on about a relatively mild encounter with the forces of darkness. All the pond could think The Optus The, or if you speak German, Die Optus Die ...

Now everyone has piled in on the magic water man's latest folly, including himself. Oh there's Finally, The Islamophobic Race-Baiting...


Interview in German newspaper Berliner Zeitung about privatised immigration Antony Loewenstein

During my recent time in Berlin, Germany, I was interviewed by one of Germany’s leading newspapers, Berliner Zeitung, about Europe’s growing reliance on privatised and unaccountable detention facilities for refugees. I’ve investigated this issue in my book, Disaster Capitalism.

The interview was conducted in English and then translated into German. I’m a German citizen but sadly my local language skills are lacking.

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian journalist with German roots. His Jewish family fled in 1939 from the Nazis. Loewenstein writes a column in the Guardian and deals primarily with the networking of transnational corporations and their influence on political processes.

His new nonfiction book “Disaster Capitalism” deals with the profiteers of the refugee crisis. Loewenstein was based in Sydney but had a research stay at the WZB Science Center Berlin and deals with the US anti-drug war.

The Australian bestselling author and Guardian columnist Antony Loewenstein explains in an interview how business is done with the refugee crisis in Germany and the world.

The Australian bestselling author and Guardian columnist Antony Loewenstein, well known for “My Israel Question” (2006), has researched his new, highly acclaimed book “Disaster Capitalism”  and now present in Berlin. In this interview he explains how business is done with the refugee crisis in Germany and the world.

Mr Loewenstein, you research for years on the subject of privatization of refugee care. What does it...


The war on drugs has failed, end it now Antony Loewenstein

My column in the Guardian:

It takes a brave politician to advocate for the legalisation of all drugs in the current political climate. In Australia, Greens leader Richard Di Natale is pushing for the decriminalisation of illicit substances, arguing that drug-taking is a health issue rather than a criminal offence. Selling and distributing drugs would still be a crime under this idea, leaving a curious loophole in the proposal which, by the way, has been working working well in Portugal for over a decade.

Australia remains largely disconnected to more enlightened drug policies or proposals internationally. In Ireland police officers want the full decriminalisation of all illicit drugs. Canada’s new government is pledging to legalise marijuana. Uruguay has completely legalised marijuana. Growing numbers of US states are r...


I want to punch him in the face political geometry

Fuhrer Trump is getting shouty

Setting his farts on fire to public amazement


The Hating 2016 North Coast Voices

Sometime the level of debate on Australian social media makes the head hurt and the heart burn.........

Facebook bile:

Anonymized Facebook posts via Twitter

The facts:

Thursday, 25 February


Negative gearing Catallaxy Files

As promised my paper on negative gearing has come out.

Low and middle income earners benefit most from negative gearing. To abolish negative gearing would make investment more difficult for low and middle income earners.

80 per cent of Australians who utilise negative gearing have an income of under $150,000, and the median income of Australians negatively geared is $88,751.

Changing negative gearing will make it more difficult for these Australians to provide for themselves in retirement.

Negative gearing is not distorting the Australian taxation system – it reflects efforts to make the tax system neutral across asset classes.

The Labor Party’s proposal would result in barriers to entry for those who would be forced to buy new expensive housing stock instead of potentially cheaper existing housing stock.

The Coalition’s policy to reduce “excessive” negative gearing is contrary to their philosophy of encouraging investment.

It got a very nice write up in the Australian this morning.

“These findings fly in the face of the class-war rhetoric that has so far dominated the case of removing negative gearing and abandoning tax neutrality, one of our tax system’s greatest strengths,” said Sinclair Davidson, who wrote the report. “Negative gearing is not merely a plaything of the rich.”

The interesting thing is that I did a robustness test using the ATO 2% file that allowed me to calculate a gross total income figure (including revenue from negative gearing and not net income from negative gearing) and that analysis showed that 80% of landlords had a...

IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed Archiver

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