Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish, James Farrell, Gilmae, Gummo Trotsky, Amanda Rose, Tim Sterne, Stephen Hill and Saint.

Politics

Australian

Gary Sauer-Thompson is skeptical about whether co-operative federalism will improve the management of the Murray-Darling Basin. What is it with South Australians and their obsession with agricultural run-off? The way they carry on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was getting into their household water supplies.

Helen reports on a recent anti-abortion letter-boxing campaign that backfired.

Robert Merkel joins the approving chorus on Garnaut’s greenhouse proposals.

Andrew Elder considers the disease of which Liberal Party kerfuffles are symptoms.

Jeremy alerts readers to another reason to be wary of the Tax Office and spells out a hard economic reality Victorians need to come to grips with:

Look, Victoria, it’s very simple. If you want those precious, precious budget surpluses, we can’t afford to also give you boom gates at level crossings.

The video at right on the Big Brother State is via Adriana Lukas at Samizdata

International

Hilzoy posts about McCain’s tax policies (not reassuring) and Obama’s foreign policy and intelligence policy positions, and links to audio and transcripts of some of Rev Wright’s inflammatory sermons

Hilzoy also examines outbreaks of fighting between Sadr militia and Iraqi army and US forces in both Baghdad and Basra, and suggests it’s very bad news indeed.

Ilya Somin looks at post(?)-Putin Russia:

Although Putin’s authoritarian policies have rolled back much of the liberalization that occurred in the 1990s, Russia is still a much freer society than it was under communism. Indeed, as Young shows, it has become a fairly typical Third World pseudo-democracy with partly fraudulent elections, a corrupt government dominated by cronyism, and significant, but far from totalitarian, repression of political dissent. As in many other Third World countries, the government tries to divert the people’s attentions away from its own shortcomings by spouting nationalist rhetoric and blaming all problems on Western interference.

Economics

Joshua Gans has been selected to play 2020, but doesn’t know whether it’s as batsman, bowler, or wicketkeeper.  Joshua also tells us what are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and why Australia needs them.

Peter Martin reports that the Opposition has initiated an inquiry into the tax system, to be chaired by Henry Ergas. Ken Lovell thinks the Shadow Treasurer’s specific proposal on what to do with carbon credit revenue — abolish stamp duty –is true to form.

Following up on his demonstration that Howard was a social democrat, Andrew Norton explains why he nonetheless expects ‘small government liberals’ to stick with the Liberal Party.


Law

Eric Posner explains a very recent US Supreme Court decision (Medellin) which appears to bring the US position on the domestic effect of international treaties  more into line with the longstanding Australian approach i.e. in most cases treaties won’t create legal rights in domestic law unless and until Parliament/Congress actually legislates them.


Jumped-up punk (Flickr attribution forgotten)

Jen likes fluffy toy photos (Flickr attribution forgotten)

No Country for Old Utes (Flickr attribution forgotten)

Emergency

Issues analysis

While, to the disgust of many, debate on climate change here at Troppo has gone backwards about half a decade, David Jeffery and Robert Merkel take a look at the Garnaut report. Meanwhile, Jennifer Marohasy’s co-blogger Paul, urges readers to do their bit to settle the scientific questions once and for all – by signing a petition:

We, the scientists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, Resolving that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method…

If you don’t fit the eligibility criteria for that petition, you can declare your support for the proper use of the scientific method on a related petition for “Citizens of the World”. 

Tired and shagged out from trying to maintain a nuanced approach to discussing complex social issues? Kim’s post on the “Miss Bimbo” web-site might be the perfect place to find a relaxing, low-nuance comments thread.


Arts

Paul Busch at FasterLouder reviews Wilco’s recent Sydney concert. He finds the alt-country innovators in impressive live form, with the reprisal of songs from Wilco’s first two albums (A.M., Being There) offering a delightful counterpoint to the elaborate compositions that would be included on Wilco’s later albums (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born) ((And having attended this concert myself, I can echo a similar approval ~ SH))

Moving even further into avant-garde territory, Guy Beres reviews The Mars Volta’s new album The Bedlam in Goliath, which I am informed continues the band’s extravagant mix of musical styles and instruments. Attempting to put this style of music into a genre description is rather difficult; Beres describes the Volta as “hard-rock sci-fi flamenco.” Having listened to previous albums from these former members of At the Drive-In, I can safely say that The Mars Volta’s mix of funk/metal/jazz/Latin rhythm is not for the fainted hearted.  

The Happy Antipodean provides some interesting commentary upon one of Truman Capote’s earlier works of non-fiction – a New Yorker article on Capote’s visit to Russia which incorporated the descriptive detail that would become synonymous with Capote’s best known work of non-fiction, In Cold Blood.

Paul Martin previews a showcase of Russian films at his Melbourne Film Blog, offering audiences the opportunity to encounter some of the major Russian films of the last century. And if you haven’t encountered Eisenstein and Tarkovsky on the big-screen you don’t know what you are missing.

Penguin is promoting six of its classics by having six contemporary authors rework said classics for digital publication. Posted so far: Charles Cumming rejigs John Buchan’s The 39 Steps in The 21 Steps and Toby Litt messes around with M.R. James’s The Haunted Doll’s House in Slice.

Geoff Manaugh ponders the architecture of self-measurement:

Could you somehow test yourself against the built environment, regularly, over the course of a lifetime, and do so deliberately, with purpose, the way people once wrote philosophy or read poems or traveled the world?

Blake Phillips is a trombonist from Perth, who was invited onstage to jam with Harry Connick Jr on Sunday.

Here’s an interview with Dimboola director Robert Schuter who wanders down memory lane his  final year at Melbourne’s Swinbourne Film and Television School in 1983  to the present.

All I’ve wanted for seven long years is for someone to write one measly play in defense of George Bush“: Jeremy McCarter was disappointed by Caryl Churchill’s Drunk enough to say I love you.


Snark, strangeness and charm

Niall Cook pedants a single sentence from news reports of an incident involving a QANTAS jet.

dr. faustus finds beauty in the Golden Orb Eight-Legged Death Monster From Hell Spider. ((As long as they stay outside. If they want to come inside the house, they should evolve like everyone else.~gilmae))

It’s Cast-iron Helen’s turn to reveal five startling facts about herself. What ever might be said about the other revelations, some pooling of facts on who’s got scars where is obviously long overdue.

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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9 Responses to Missing Link Daily

  1. Patrick says:

    Hilzoy posts about McCains tax policies (not reassuring)

    about Hilzoy’s grasp of tax policy.

    Let’s start with the conclusion:
    We are heading into a very serious recession. It’s worth pointing out that one of our major candidates for President is proposing to drastically increase our deficit without being able to pay for it, in ways that are hugely tilted towards the rich, and will, as a result, not provide the kind of stimulus to demand that we need. This actually sounds like a reasonably sensible policy to be taking into a recession.

    Cutting to earlier, where Hilzoy lists the key proposals:

    (c) “Cut The Corporate Tax Rate From 35 To 25 Percent.”

    (d) “Allow First-Year Deduction, Or Expensing, Of Equipment And Technology Investments.”

    Both of which would seem likely to be stimulating, the latter directly.

    S/he also stresses about the regressivity of these cuts:

    Think about that for a moment: 58% of the benefits of these tax cuts would go to the top 1% of Americans. Not the top ten percent, not the vaguely defined “rich”, but the top 1%. That’s just extraordinary.

    It is extraordinary that US tax contribution is so incredibly progressive. That these tax cuts ‘benefit’ the ultra-rich so much more is largely a function of that, not of McCain’s desire to make billionaires into trillionaires.

    It may not be anyone’s ideal policy but it surely a more-than-reasonable one!

  2. Patrick says:

    Look, Victoria, its very simple. If you want those precious, precious budget surpluses, we cant afford to also give you boom gates at level crossings.

    This is a real issue that for some reason only the Herald-Sun seems to care about. How can any prosperous modern state justify not paying whatever piddly amount of money involved in putting boom gates in? I am sure that the total bill would be less than $150m and I would happily give up the State’s advertising budget to finance that.

    I don’t as a matter of principle or practice expect the State to do a lot, but surely render its works vaguely safe for the public is not stretching things?

  3. Gummo Trotsky says:

    This is a real issue that for some reason only the Herald-Sun seems to care about.

    And Kenneth Davidson. He’s been banging on for years about the need for more grade-separation of road and rail – that is overpasses and underpasses – in the metro area.

    Why doesn’t it happen? You could point the finger at the Australian Technocratic Elite Party (currently represented in office by its slightly more progressive wing) but that’s just scapegoating. The obsession with maintaining budget surpluses at the expense of necessary public works is only a small part of the story.

  4. Ken Parish says:

    The level crossing smash that gave rise to Kosky’s comments was not in the metropolitan area but on a small country road at Modewarre south west of Geelong. I tend to agree with the Minister that it isn’t sensible to imagine that gates and flashing lights can feasibly be installed in such areas. The fact that a woman and child died is tragic but it doesn’t mean that it’s the government’s fault.

    I also disagree with Patrick on the McCain tax front. I agree that cutting the corporate tax rate is a good idea and stimulatory (thus Hilzoy is wrong there). I somehow doubt that allowing business to deduct capital expenditure in the first year rather than depreciate over the life of the plant is a very effective or well targetted measure, although I’d be interested in the views of Nicholas Gruen, “backroom girl” and others who are expert in the area.

    I don’t understand Patrick’s contention that it’s perfectly OK for 58% of McCain’s tax cuts to go to the top 1% of income earners:

    It is extraordinary that US tax contribution is so incredibly progressive. That these tax cuts benefit the ultra-rich so much more is largely a function of that, not of McCains desire to make billionaires into trillionaires.

    I’m no expert on the US income tax system (or Australia’s for that matter), but a quick Google indicates that the current top rate for federal income tax is 35% and that it cuts in at $357,701. State income taxes are highly variable but a common rate for high income earners is 9%. Thus total income tax for high income earners is around 44%, which is a little lower than the top Australian rate and cuts in at a significantly higher income (it’s even better in some States, which have lower income tax rates or in some cases none at all). That doesn’t look dramatically progressive to me. Certainly any attempt by a political party/candidate in Australia to award 58% of tax cuts to the highest income earners would be something very close to political suicide.

  5. Patrick says:

    The point is not the rates levied but the extremely high incomes on which it is levied – which are not in fact in the top 1 per cent but the top 0.05 per cent. I understand the top one per cent to be those who earn more than about $200k (USD) and the top one per cent to contribute about 38 per cent of the income tax revenue.
    Further, I understand that the bottom fifty per cent of the population pay roughly five per cent. Further yet, approximately forty per cent of the country is not subject to federal income tax!

    So their tax burden is vastly more weighted to the ‘top one per cent’ than ours.

    In relation to the stimulatory nature of the proposals, an upfront deduction for capital expenditure appears to me inherently stimulatory becauses it encourages investment and, er, capital expenditure, most of which (in the US at least) is domestic. In principle it should not be distortionary since you deduct wages outright as well, but it is probably is slightly distortionary since you are not obliged to pay for several years’ worth of wages upfront.

    Ultimately, I am not sure if you disagree with me as much as that!

    Also I would note that I am not sure that there is anything to prefer in Hillary’s and Obama’s policies since they don’t really have them, but that on the basis of what they have released, their policies are not clearly worse (or better) than McCain’s, except that neither has either agreed to or ruled out cutting corporate income tax.

    Certainly any attempt by a political party/candidate in Australia to award 58% of tax cuts to the highest income earners would be something very close to political suicide.

    Yes I 95 per cent agree with that. But I understand that we have a far higher proportion of taxpayers and a more equally distributed tax burden (although I could be wrong here, I am certainly not an expert).

    I only agree 95 per cent because if you choose the right percentile (a fraction of one) then Gummo’s technocratic elite party went into the last election with a policy which probably delivered 58 per cent of the tax cuts to 0.X per cent of the population.

  6. Niall says:

    I only agree 95 per cent because if you choose the right percentile (a fraction of one) then Gummos technocratic elite party went into the last election with a policy which probably delivered 58 per cent of the tax cuts to 0.X per cent of the population.

    probably? understand? could be wrong? not an expert?

    Stop digging Patrick, I think the hole’s deep enough already ;)

  7. Gummo Trotsky says:

    And to be precise, it’s the “slightly more progressive wing of the Australian Technocratic Elite Party” which took office in the last election from their traditional rivals the barking mad conservative wing of the same party.

  8. Tony T. says:

    Had a thought.

    You really should consider including Leaping Larry L’s Blog O’ Leaps for his fillum reviews.

    “Su. Poib.”

    ~~ B. Bunny

    Dunno about them read feeder whatsits that you use to cobble ML together, but.

  9. Helen says:

    I’ve seen stop signs mooted as a low-tech solution for country rail crossings, but I’m not sure why no-one has suggested sleeping policemen (speed humps) as a cheap and workable way to ensure that people at least, if not stop completely, then slow to a crawl. Make them severe enough that the petrol heads will fear for their precious suspension, while the motoristly challenged will notice that their heads hit the roof if they try to drive over them too fast.

    Thanks for the links, Ken!

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