Tag Archives: Australian

ANZAC DAY

ANZAC Day is a national day of pride. A day of pride in the enduring spirit of mateship and ingenuity.

ANZAC Day is not just a day based on the remembering the events of Gallipoli and our lucky escape. It is remembering all the fallen Australians and what they fought for – whether it was the spirit of adventure, the defense of the British Empire or for the defence of the nation. In a way its probably a second rememberance/armistice day.

It is through these bonds of mateship that were long established in Australia before we federated our nation that Australia became what it is today. It was in the days when the country still rode on the sheep’s back, we faced up to the harshness of working the Australian land but we were relatively relaxed because of the great distances involved in travelling from one station to another. We never really rushed unless there was an emergency. This is one of the reasons Australia is so relaxed today. Today it is sometimes referred to laziness but for me that is only for those that don’t understand the genesis of Australia.

Mateship was also defined for me in the war mythos of Australia. My recollecctions are not entirely what they used to be but one such story in I think WWI was the Aussies kept coming, if their leader had been killed, someone else would take charge and if that person was killed then someone else would and so on, all the way down the line.

There are a few that remain that promote that ANZAC Day is about Nationalism but I feel too often they mix up nationalism with patriotism.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines nationalism as: Advocacy of or support for the interests of one’s own nation, esp. to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. Also: advocacy of or support for national independence or self-determination.”

Patriotism as: 1.The character or passion of a patriot; love of or zealous devotion to one’s country.

2. One who disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly exerts himself to promote the wellbeing of his country; one whose ruling passion is the love of his country; one who maintains and defends his country’s freedom or rights.

As you can see there are distinct differences.

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Australia Day Redux

I think Minnie Mace who I saw on SBS’s Living Black quite some time ago talking about various faiths of today’s Aboriginals said it best.

She said:

I think that all faiths, religions are like a string of pearls with a thread of truth running through all of them. And I believe that respect for one’s self, respect of others and respect for the environment, the sum total is the respect for God. I don’t believe in an invasion because I believe in a divine arrangement. The English language has broken down 600 language barriers – we couldn’t even talk to each other. And if I don’t want to get up in the morning, I don’t have to – I’ve got a fridge at home, I don’t have to hunt and gather every day to survive. And I’d rather be tracking down a kangaroo on the back of a fast-moving ute than running him down on foot. Our ancestors suffered so we could have all these benefits today and our kids don’t respect anything because they’re so full of hate and anger and that’s brought about by these academics perpetuating a noble savage on one hand, and we have a sense of grieving for paradise lost, and, on the other hand, it’s an invasion. We were advancing spiritually and they were advancing technologically and now we’ve all been brought together we have to understand each other’s culture, each other’s belief and then set a good standard for the future generations.

That’s such a beautiful and honest way of looking at it.

Jeremy Kewley from the former police drama stingers, once summed up Australia day in this way:

Australia Day is a day of celebration, commemoration and a day of profound reflection.

A day where we can pause to look back over thousands of years,
To what this country was and what it has become,
To what we have done – both good and bad, for and with, our country.

Australia Day is a time to understand and acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them and then to use that knowledge and understanding to move forward.

A day where we can celebrate what we have today ?

Our tolerance – our acceptance of others and their acceptance of us,
Our diversity – from culture to food, from language to religion.
Our landscape – vast and exhilarating, green and gold, deep red and ocean blue.
Our lifestyle – relaxed, casual, informal and welcoming.
Our sense of humour – never taking ourselves too seriously.
Our mateship – a common bond which all Australians seem to ‘understand’.

And our luck at living in Australia,
One of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Another beautiful and honest way.

Personally I think Australia Day is best summed up by the words of the famous song ? I am Australian

I came from the dreamtime from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame
I stood upon the rocky shore
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I’d been the first Australian.

I came upon the prison ship bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I’m a settler.
I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man I became Australian.

I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I’m a child of the depression
I saw the good times come
I’m a bushy, I’m a battler
I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
I am, you are, we are Australian.

As Australians we come from a variety of backgrounds, a variety of cultures and today we celebrate, commemorate and reflect on our history. It is the new millennium; it is a time to move forward, it is a time for progress. It is time for Australia to succeed. Australia is proud of her history of hard yakka. It is in our blood, it is in our hearts, its in our hands. Today I am proud to be Australian.

Newstart and DSP Allowances: the brass tax

A guest post by Mick Peel

People reliant on pensions and benefits are recognised as being amongst the poorest in our community. Age and disability pensioners have always received higher payment rates than the unemployed. But since 1997, when the Howard government started to index pensions to average weekly earnings but continued to index unemployment payments to the consumer price index, the gap has widened significantly.

Pensions are indexed in a different manner to Newstart. Pensions are indexed to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Cost of Living Index – whichever is greater. Newstart is only indexed to the CPI. In September 2011, the MTAWE increase was 4% while the CPI increase was 2.5%, which resulted in an increase of $10 for pensions and $6 for Newstart.

Overview

Following the recommendations of the Harmer Review, in September 2009 the federal government increased the single rate of Age Pension by more than $35 per week – one of the largest pension increases in Australian history. This was a welcome change that significantly reduced income poverty among the aged. However, this further widened the gap between Newstart and pensions to the point where the shortfall is now nearly $266 per fortnight. In 1997, a single unemployed person received 92% of what was paid to a pensioner; that ratio is now 65%. There has not been a ‘real’ increase (apart from inflation) in Newstart Allowance since 1995.The Newstart Allowance is the lowest unemployment payment in the OECD for a single person on an average wage who has just become unemployed.[1]

Since 1996, payments for the single unemployed have fallen from 23.5% of the average wage for males to 19.5%. Furthermore, the level of Newstart for a single person has fallen from around 54% to 45% of the after-tax minimum wage. Newstart has fallen from 46% of median family income in 1996 to 36% in 2009-10.[2]

Currently, single unemployed adults receive $490 per fortnight in Newstart payments, or $35 per day. If they’re renting privately, they’re entitled to up to $120 per fortnight in rent assistance. But, to get that amount their rent has to be more than $267 per fortnight, leaving them with just $24.50 per day for all other costs.

Analysis

The real disposable incomes of Newstart recipients have been flat for the past couple of decades, while the real disposable incomes of minimum wage workers have increased modestly (compound annual growth rate = 0.7%). Full-time workers on average earnings have seen steady real income growth (compound annual growth rate = 1.7%), pulling away from minimum wage workers and from Newstart recipients.[3]

dollarcomparisons

[1] Australian Council of Social Services, 2011 http://acoss.org.au/images/uploads/ACOSS_Poverty_October_2011.pdf

[2] Prof Peter Whiteford, ‘Paltry Newstart Allowance is fast becoming a poverty trap’ 20 April 2012: http://theconversation.edu.au/paltry-newstart-allowance-is-fast-becoming-a-poverty-trap-6218

[3] “Newstart recipients” refers to adult recipients with no dependants and no income other than their Newstart payment. Similarly, “DSP recipients” are single, working-age adults who are wholly reliant on their pension. ‘Minimum wage worker’ refers to a full-time employee employed for 38 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage or its historical antecedent, which is taken to be the C14 rate in the Metals award; the worker has no other income and lives alone.

DSP recipients’ incomes started out at around the Henderson poverty line and ended up at the same point, but lagged behind the line for a decade and a half or so.[1] The gap between Newstart recipients’ income and both of the poverty lines has grown, while the gap between both lines and the income of a minimum wage worker has become smaller.[2]

incomecomparison

[1] Henderson poverty line from the Melbourne Institute. Relative poverty line based on ABS 6523 (median equivalised disposable household income).

[2] We don’t have an official poverty line in Australia, be it an absolute line as in the US or a relative line as in Europe.

In short, Newstart recipients’ real incomes have been flat, while those of full-time workers and DSP recipients have grown. The gap between the incomes of people on Newstart and minimum wage workers has grown; the gap between Newstart recipients and their counterparts on DSP has grown further.

The problems faced by the unemployed were recognised by the Henry Review of the tax system, which highlighted the need for a principles-based approach to setting payment levels: “Establishing adequacy benchmarks for transfer payments not considered in the Pension Review would make the system more robust, particularly if the benchmarks were preserved through a common but sustainable indexation arrangement.” This “would mean an increase to base rates for single income support recipients” on Newstart.

The Henry Review also recommended that the maximum rate of rent assistance should be increased and the rent maximum should be indexed by movements in national rents.

Source note: Calculations via Matt Cowgill at the ACTU – real incomes take into account personal income tax liability, the Medicare Levy, the LITO, and the BTO. “1991″ refers to September 1991, with the tax parameters for the 1991-92 fiscal year; each subsequent year uses the same timing. Payment rates from FaHCSIA. Minimum wage rates from FWA/AIRC. Personal income tax rates and thresholds from the ATO. LITO amount and thresholds from the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. AWOTE from ABS 6302. CPI from ABS 6401.

2016 Census to flop

Here’s Why:

In 2016 all that will be delivered is a letter, which will include details of web access and a password. Only if someone is determined not to complete the census online will they be posted a form, after phoning a 1800 number. Only if nothing is returned will an ABS employee visit.

And I’m only thinking of my parents and elderly members of the Australian community.

RePost: Australia Day

I think Minnie Mace who I saw on SBS’s Living Black quite some time ago talking about various faiths of today’s Aboriginals said it best.

She said:

I think that all faiths, religions are like a string of pearls with a thread of truth running through all of them. And I believe that respect for one’s self, respect of others and respect for the environment, the sum total is the respect for God. I don’t believe in an invasion because I believe in a divine arrangement. The English language has broken down 600 language barriers – we couldn’t even talk to each other. And if I don’t want to get up in the morning, I don’t have to – I’ve got a fridge at home, I don’t have to hunt and gather every day to survive. And I’d rather be tracking down a kangaroo on the back of a fast-moving ute than running him down on foot. Our ancestors suffered so we could have all these benefits today and our kids don’t respect anything because they’re so full of hate and anger and that’s brought about by these academics perpetuating a noble savage on one hand, and we have a sense of grieving for paradise lost, and, on the other hand, it’s an invasion. We were advancing spiritually and they were advancing technologically and now we’ve all been brought together we have to understand each other’s culture, each other’s belief and then set a good standard for the future generations.

That’s such a beautiful and honest way of looking at it.

Jeremy Kewley from the former police drama stingers, once summed up Australia day in this way:

Australia Day is a day of celebration, commemoration and a day of profound reflection.

A day where we can pause to look back over thousands of years,
To what this country was and what it has become,
To what we have done – both good and bad, for and with, our country.

Australia Day is a time to understand and acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them and then to use that knowledge and understanding to move forward.

A day where we can celebrate what we have today ?

Our tolerance – our acceptance of others and their acceptance of us,
Our diversity – from culture to food, from language to religion.
Our landscape – vast and exhilarating, green and gold, deep red and ocean blue.
Our lifestyle – relaxed, casual, informal and welcoming.
Our sense of humour – never taking ourselves too seriously.
Our mateship – a common bond which all Australians seem to ‘understand’.

And our luck at living in Australia,
One of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Another beautiful and honest way.

Personally I think Australia Day is best summed up by the words of the famous song ? I am Australian

I came from the dreamtime from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame
I stood upon the rocky shore
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I’d been the first Australian.

I came upon the prison ship bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I’m a settler.
I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man I became Australian.

I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I’m a child of the depression
I saw the good times come
I’m a bushy, I’m a battler
I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
I am, you are, we are Australian.

As Australians we come from a variety of backgrounds, a variety of cultures and today we celebrate, commemorate and reflect on our history. It is the new millennium; it is a time to move forward, it is a time for progress. It is time for Australia to succeed. Australia is proud of her history of hard yakka. It is in our blood, it is in our hearts, its in our hands. Today I am proud to be Australian.

Unemployment is a Government Policy Choice

A common misconception is that if everybody was prepared to take awful enough jobs, unemployment would be eradicated automatically, irrespective of the government’s fiscal stance. Embedded in this argument is a misconception that unemployment, overall, can be eliminated through lower wages or deteriorating working conditions. In a capitalist monetary economy, this is not true. To think otherwise is to succumb to a fallacy of composition.

Orthodox neoclassical economists clung to this fallacy – many uninformed ones still do – but it has been shown to be unfounded in the Capital Debates as well as by later work by neoclassical general equilibrium theorists themselves. No other economic school of thought (other than the Austrians) ever suggested such a nonsensical notion. It was a fiction dreamed up by neoclassical economists to serve an ideological purpose (it implies everything will be hunky dory as long as markets are left to their own devices).

The reason no other economists ever supposed such a ridiculous relationship between wages and aggregate employment is that, even intuitively, there is no reason to think it would hold. A reduction in the price of anything always means two things simultaneously. It means: (i) somebody has to pay less for something they want; and (ii) somebody else is receiving less for providing that thing. At the aggregate level, it means: (i) all of us, taken as a whole, are paying less for the stuff we want; and (ii) all of us, taken as a whole, are receiving less for providing the same stuff. Why would anyone think this has any systematic effect on how much stuff will be produced in the economy? It doesn’t, as has been demonstrated formally in the Capital Debates and later work.

Unemployment is a government policy choice. Redistributing existing income from workers to capitalists by lowering wages has no systematic effect on aggregate employment. Why would it, necessarily? The lower wages mean workers are cheaper for firms to hire, but demand for consumption goods may be reduced. So is there more or less impetus for firms to undertake production of consumption goods? Is there more or less impetus for firms to undertake production of investment goods that will increase the capacity to produce consumption goods in the future? The answer to these questions is indeterminate. A mere redistribution of income (from wages to profits or vice versa) has no systematic effect on output and employment.

The bottom line is there are not enough jobs. One person may be able to get an existing job ahead of somebody else by offering to work for less pay or under worse conditions, but this does not alter the aggregate level of employment and unemployment in a predictable way. It may cause employment to increase. Then again, it might cause it to decrease. For instance, redistributing income to capitalists may merely raise the intended level of net private saving and reduce the level of planned private expenditures. If so, there will be a multiplied contraction in output and income, defeating the private-sector attempt to increase its net saving unless – and to the extent that – the government allows its budget to move sufficiently into deficit to satisfy private-sector net saving desires.

Unemployment is the result of the non-government sector wishing to net save more than is consistent with full employment, given its current level of net financial assets. The government has the capacity to eliminate unemployment, because it can alter the net financial asset position of the non-government sector. The non-government sector cannot do this on its own. It can redistribute existing net financial assets among its members, hoping that in some way – by sheer fluke – this will reduce private-sector net saving desires and boost demand, production and employment, but it can’t of its own accord increase its net financial assets.

By injecting sufficient additional high-powered money into the system (through deficit expenditure), the government is in a position to increase private net financial assets and render the non-government sector’s net saving behavior consistent with full employment. That is the straightforward solution to unemployment, and we can have it the moment the general community puts its collective foot down and insists on it.

This is a modified version of Unemployment is a Macro Problem originally published at Heteconomist

My Reaction to Gillard’s Luna Park Speech

Most of you should be familiar by now that I primarily blog over at Modern Money Mechanics on the MMT framework which is the operational framework for any modern fiat currency for a sovereign currency that freely floats on the foreign exchange.

Based on my understanding of these I live tweeted the following during the speech to the Sydney Institute.

    1. Laughing at her cries for a surplus by 2012/13 – think of the unemployment it will create

    1. The unemployed aint currently scarce, there’s 490 000 of them + those underemployed Ms. Gillard

    1. So anyone that can’t get a job should go work in the mines Ms Gillard #abcnews24

    1. Sounds like Abbott with under 30s

    1. Gillard expecting to ride on the forthcoming commodity bubble like Howard before her on the previous one #abcnews24

    1. The GST is unnecessary Ms. Gillard #mmt #abcnews24

    1. If you saw the human faces behind unemployment you would understand a surplus/defict is an outcome not a policy tool #abcnews24

    1. Finally something sensible, if you don’t give the unemployed an entry level job #abcnews24

And in my view the budget was just as bad. Just quickly Gillard summed up Wayne Swan’s budget like this:

Tuesday night’s Budget reflects the values of the Gillard Labor Government – we believe in getting more people into work and training them for more rewarding jobs. It means national prosperity can reach more lives, in more corners of our patchwork economy.

My response was: –

but you haven’t created any jobs and nor has the private sector as indicated by today’s fall in participation rate therefore you are wrong. You can retrain people as much as you like but if the jobs aren’t there it is a waste of time. Superficially your unemployment rate looks good because of that fall in participation.