Archive for September, 2015

A deficit of dignity

September 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 6.32.35 pmIn 1971, one in 16 families with dependent children was a parent short of a couple. Now it’s one in six. Surely not even the most steadfast social engineer would consider this to be progress, I write in The Australian this week.

BREAKING THE CYCLE OF WRETCHEDNESS

Plumbers versus lawyers: An update

September 28th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Lawyers outnumber plumbers by 15 to one in Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney, I noted in The Australian last week.

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

As an indicator of the social, cultural and political divide in contemporary Australia, the lawyer-to-plumber ratio is as good as any.

The Kenny Index shows that there are at least twice any many lawyers as plumbers in 21 out of 150 federal lower house electorates.

They are, I suggest, the seats where the Liberal’s new leader Malcolm Turnbull is likely to prove most effective.

SEARCHING FOR THE ELUSIVE CENTRE

HOW MANY LAWYERS DOES IT TAKE TO CLEAR AN S-BEND?

Cant by candlelight

September 11th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The eagerness to show “we care” about Syrian refugees has displaced the much harder moral and practical challenge of how best to relieve the anguish of millions of displaced people, I write in an article on the SBS website.

syria_vigil_room.jpg 704×396 pixelsJudging by one ABC Radio report, the leaders of a candlelight vigil in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Monday night had entirely missed the point.

“Thousands turned out to deliver a simple message,” reported Lindy Kerin on Tuesday’s AM. And what was that simple message? A GetUp organiser speaking from the podium spelt it out.

“We should be so proud of ourselves standing here tonight with courage and compassion to say welcome,” he said, and the audience cheered.

Well, thanks for turning up, everybody. But it is far too early to give ourselves a pat on the back. The challenge of giving people in the Middle East the chance of a better life is not solved by lighting candles, emergency foreign aid, or hasty decisions about quotas.

FULL COLUMN

The sober truth about alcohol taxes

September 8th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Anti-booze zealots insist drinkers are not paying their way claiming that alcohol’s social cost is greater than alcohol tax revenue. They’re wrong. 

WineThe IEA’s Christopher Snowden reports that the costs of alcohol to government in England was not £20bn ($43.9bn) a year, as crusaders claimed, but £3.9bn a year. Since the government raises £10.4bn from taxes on alcohol, drinkers are subsidising non-drinkers to the tune of £6.5bn a year.

As I write in The Australian today, it would be interesting to transfer Snowdon’s methodology here. You can bet your wine cellar the cost of alcohol use is considerably less than the $36bn “social cost” claimed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

FULL COLUMN