Race Around the Blogosphere

Perry De Havilland (via Stephen Dawson on Libertarians) has a strange little post on Samizdata, asserting that blogging should be seen as a marketplace rather than a democratic conversation space. The reasoning seems to flow from the extreme libertarian/neo-liberal viewpoint that markets are good, governments are bad. Democracy is associated with constraining government, and government is about coercion, but has nothing to do with creating or underpinning freedom or equality of opportunity (so the story goes). The good stuff is created solely by the efforts of rugged individualists. The proposition that democracy integrally involves fostering individual freedom and equality of opportunity is rejected as a pernicious invention of woolly-thinking leftists. It’s complete crap, of course, but worth reading to remind ourselves that extreme right ideology can lead its adherents into bizarre blind intellectual alleys just as much as its leftist counterparts.

Bright Cold Matt blogs an amusing Roddy Meagher judgment extract about ongoing attempts to expand the scope of the tort of negligence, that will succeed only over Meagher’s dead whale-like corpse.

Bargarz (links still bloggered) continues to post fine analyses of the increasingly dreadful Israel-Palestinian conflict. Won’t someone offer this outstanding Australian blogger a Movable Type home?

Professor Bunyip (links also still bloggered, and who also merits MT digs, has apparently been offered them but is too slack to accept) had a post on Wednesday dealing with tax, which (implicitly?) accepted the Labor line that Costello is the highest-taxing Treasurer in Australian history. Jack Strocchi has blogged to similar effect on Catallaxy. I actually think Costello’s argument, that the GST should properly be viewed in large part as a State tax, has some merit, and I’m prepared to argue the point in the comment box if anyone’s interested.

Finally, there’s this article (via John Ray) advocating the unconditional reinstatement of Wollongong Uni academic Ted Steele, who had the temerity to go on the record and claim that academics were under pressure to go soft on marking to maintain enrolments (and hence funding). It remains an important issue, not just because academic freedom of speech is important IMO, but because the pressure to compromise university marking standards (while denying that it happens) will become even more acute when the recently-announced Nelson higher education reforms are introduced.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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matt
2021 years ago

… that will succeed only over Meagher’s dead whale-like corpse.

*Snorts coffee out nose*.

Heh.

bargarz
2021 years ago

I have republished my archives and fixed thebloggered links (for now).
Thanks for the heads up.

Stewart Kelly
2021 years ago

“…when the recently announced Nelson higher education reforms are introduced.”

And when will that be?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

At the joint sitting after Simon the Unlikeable loses the DD election, sadly.

James Russell
James Russell
2021 years ago

blogging should be seen as a marketplace rather than a democratic conversation space

Ergh. And I thought the Marxists had problems seeing things in anything but economic terms…

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2021 years ago

“the GST should properly be viewed in large part as a State tax, has some merit”

This is an amazing argument. The Commonwealth has been funding State Governments for decades now from the old sales tax, income tax, company tax, FIDs, excise duties and you name it. None of these were ever considered State taxes just because the States got secondary revenue from them. The only difference with the GST is that there is a direct nexus to State revenue in respect to quantum.

if you want to look at trends in relation to growth in commonwealth taxes across time you must assign that part of sales tax, et al to being State taxes to the extent that States benefited from them. In which case you are back to the well-deserved assertion that Costello is the highest taxing Federal Treasurer we have had.

In this type of comparison, Ken, you have to compare apples with apples.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Professor Bunyip has emailed to point out that he didn’t say Costello was the highest taing Treasurer in history. He’s correct; it was Jack Strocchi who argued that. Nevertheless, the high tax assumption is implicit in the Prof’s argument, and I don’t think it’s entirely fair. That was my point.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Ron,

Something around 1% of GDP from GST is referrable to State taxes specifically foregone by the States as part of the GST deal (or so I understand). In addition, and prior to the GST being implemented, Commonwealth sales and/or excise taxes were raised in 1998 as a direct result of the High Court’s declaring State petrol, liquour and tobacco taxes unconstitutional (in Ha’s case). The Commonwealth agreed to help out the States, and returned these additional revenues to the States by way of s96 grants as an interim measure, quite expressly until more durable measures could be put in place to replace the States’ lost revenue and (in part at least) remedy the resulting exacerbation of fiscal imbalance.

The GST in large measure IS that durable solution: – around half of it is a direct replacement for State taxes either foregone as part of the GST deal or lost through the High Court’s 1998 decision. To that extent it can properly be said to be a state tax, especially given that ALL of the revenue is required by legislation to be returned to the States, and that this has undoubtedly allowed the States to avoid implementing or raising other taxes of their own, as they would otherwise have been forced to do.

Given these various changes, the best way of looking at the picture is to examine the total tax take (Commonwealth + States) as a proportion of GDP. When you do that you find that it’s remained pretty stable at around 31% for quite a long time. The tax mix has changed slightly with the GST, with marginally more being raised by indirect taxes and marginally less by income tax. But the changes are hardly dramatic in percentage terms.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2021 years ago

Ken, total tax take is relevant in discussing whether or not Australia is a heavily-taxed country or otherwise vis-a-vis other OECD countries, and also in discussing the relative taxpayer funding of public schools versus private schools. It’s not particularly helpful in measuring the taxing performance of federal governments. I agree that the GST replaced a number of State taxes, but the federal wholesale sales tax that it absorbed was a very major component of the substitution. It’s legitimate to count some of the GST as a State tax, but by no means the lot.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Ron,

No it’s not “the lot” of the GST; I think it’s about half (but I’m sure others can give us more precise figures). However, I suggest that when you deduct that half from the Commonwealth tax take you find that Costello is no longer the highest taxing Treasurer of all time. He’s pretty much on a par with his predecessors including Keating, except that the proportion of indirect tax in the total has increased marginally.

Reg Braddock
Reg Braddock
2021 years ago

Amazingly, GST doesn’t appear in any government accounts. Kind of puts government ranting about corporate accountancy into perspective, does it not?

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