FBT Rule Changes

Excellent post on The Conversation about what is actually proposed by Rudd & Bowen to change with the FBT rules next year:

This means that where the statutory formula method gives a lower taxable value than the cost method, the taxpayer is getting a tax concession.

This is recognised in the annual Tax Expenditure Statements issued by Treasury. The Tax Expenditure Statements contain a list of items where taxpayers are getting a tax concession, along with an estimate of the aggregate of the tax concession.

The statutory formula method is listed as a significant tax expenditure. On the other hand, where the statutory formula method gives a higher taxable value than the cost method and the employer fails to elect into the lower cost method (this will rarely happen), the employer is being (unfairly) overtaxed. This would be a negative tax expenditure.

The removal of the statutory formula method simply moves this part of the tax system back to a principled position by removing a tax concession. These facts have been completely lost in the “debate”.

The whinging of vested interests and the media’s speed in presenting their stories as being utterly valid without question leaves me disgusted. Any business that just complains when their operating environment changes, especially when they’ve been operating on what amounts to a rort, doesn’t deserve to be in the business in the first place. This is a repeat of the mining tax whinge writ small.

Edit: Michael Pascoe in the Fairfax press also has an excellent & incisive piece on this.


Obama: America is not yet a post-racial society

Barack Obama, showing the eloquence he’s famous for, makes the point in the light of the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman case that America is not (yet) a post-racial society:

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

This is something that many who haven’t experienced that side of society’s treatments perhaps don’t realise – those viewed this way notice. People might thing they’re being careful or subtle, but it’s noticeable. I’m not a black man in America, but I’ve seen shades of the same thing, and while 9 times out of 10 it’s easy to dismiss, there’s always the odd moment when you think to yourself that you’re paying for the original sin of appearance, something you can’t control at all.

And let me just leave you with a final thought: that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.

It doesn’t mean that we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

The underlying point here is: electing me – even twice – hasn’t resolved the race issue in America, and it’d be worthwhile to recognise this as a factor.

asides quickie

The Earth from Saturn

The Earth from Saturn

See that pale whitish-blue dot over on the right, under the rings? That’s the Earth as seen from Cassini, orbiting around Saturn. Beautiful.

the daily column

Calvin & Hobbes Documentary ‘Dear Mr Watterson’ coming

News today of Calvin & Hobbes documentary coming – here’s the trailer:

I love Calvin and Hobbes in a way that I’m not entirely sure how to express – it’s a shame that there’s not more being made, but there were more than enough created that each time I see a strip it feels funny and fresh, and brightens my day. The artwork is superb. Looking forward to seeing the full version of this documentary.


Aussies lacking basic scientific facts

I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear this from the US, but Australia, really? 41% of Australians don’t know the Earth takes a year to orbit the sun:

Three in 10 people aren’t aware that evolution is still occurring, with a similar proportion of the public dismissing the idea that humans influence evolution in other creatures.

On all of these measures, Australians’ knowledge has declined in the past three years, when the academy last polled the public.

Asked if humans inhabited Earth at the same time as dinosaurs, 27% of respondents said yes. This is down slightly from 2010, when 30% of the population thought humans lived alongside the prehistoric creatures.

I mean, what the hell, right? Do kids these days think Jurassic Park was a documentary?


Kevin’s Back

Possibly a little late to be jumping into the schemozzle that was Federal Politics last week, but now that Kevin’s back, there’s quite a few people giving Labor another look. It’s fascinating to me because the policy differences between Rudd and Gillard are minimal, so the difference boils purely down to personality and perception.

Anyway, that point aside, here’s Pollytics on how the 2013 Election is actually shaping up to be a very, very interesting one:

The “Swing to the ALP” figure is the change to the ALP two party preferred vote since the 2010 election. As we can see, there’s big movements to the ALP in Qld, but large movements away from them in Victoria and South Australia, with NSW and WA remaining static.

If we plug those numbers into Antony Green’s Election Calculator, we get the ALP currently sitting on 77 seats, the Coalition 71 and 2 Independents (Katter and Wilkie). The Tasmania, ACT and NT results all come from small samples in either the ReachTEL or Morgan SMS results – so they’re a bit iffy, but you get the general picture.

My election simulation produces a similar result 76 seats to the ALP vs. 72 to the Coalition, with 2 Independents.

Wait, what? That’s not supposed to happen. Labor is ahead on its own merits, and QLD seems to be the key.

Very, very interesting electoral maths about to occur.