Budget froth and bubbles

Ahh, budget night, a night that has traditionally, for me, been an excuse for some solo TV watching complete with a cold beer. But not last night. Last night I didn’t watch any of the coverage until after NCIS* and Lie to Me**. I figured forensic crime investigations and a show examining honesty would be more interesting viewing than forensic accounting and a show full of lies.

But, I have been pretty interested in the whole alcopops debacle – which would most certainly be the most trivial issue to trigger a double dissolution ever. Some alcopops companies found a loophole and started brewing pre-mix drinks with beer as the alcoholic base, circumventing the tax. So now, the Government, in Budget Papers number 2, have promised to ensure that beer remains bitter… thanks to the SMH’s Annabel Crabb for the hot tip…

“The Government will alter the taxation definitions of beer and wine to ensure that beer and wine‑based products that attempt to mimic spirit based products are taxed as a spirit product, with effect from 1 July 2009. This measure has an ongoing gain to revenue which is estimated to be $125 million over the forward estimates period.

The definition of beer will be changed to ensure that beer has a certain level of bitterness, and to clarify that the addition of sugar, artificial sweeteners and spirits may result in the resultant product being taxed as a spirit based product.

The definition of grape wine products will be changed to exclude products that add the flavour of any alcoholic beverage, other than wine. Other changes to the definition of grape wine products will act to provide certainty as to the circumstances where alcohol can be added to a grape wine product.”

* Why can’t NCIS get corpses not to breathe during their autopsy scenes?
** I am fascinated by this show and the nuanced expressions of deception and emotions, provided it’s accurate and not a complete work of fiction…

One other thing

I forgot to mention the budget. Consider it mentioned. I thought it was interesting to see the budget dealt with Climate Change in exactly the way Ben and I thought it should – it ignored it. Climate Change is an issue overheated by overzealous scaremongering from the latte left. It seems logical to me that the ice caps have been gradually melting for a long time – why we’ve suddenly decided that our carbon emissions are responsible for environmental change is beyond me – other than the fact that there are elections coming up in the US and Australia – and a potential Presidential candidate made a propaganda filled movie the likes of which have not been seen since Michael Moore trotted out his award winning anti-Bush tripe a few years ago. In real terms the new IR laws have created jobs, kept inflation down and kept productivity stable – while the unions would have us believe that we’re all one contract away from the sweatshops. The unions of course have nothing to gain from convincing the public that workplace agreements are bad… oh that’s right – collective bargaining is their bread and butter. Union membership in Australia is steadily on the decline because we’ve never had it so good. K-Rudd should spend his time picking the real issues with the Howard government rather than trying to box shadows (in the pugilistic sense). It’s time for them to stop attacking Howard’s age (and implying he’s out of touch) and to start making suggestions of real policy – something last night’s budget seemed short of. The government has obviously overtaxed us for years – a surplus of $13.6 billion is not a sign of fiscal responsibility but an indication that they’ve taken too much money from the electorate. Although any public servant expecting to be paid superannuation when they retire would probably suggest that we need more money in the surplus – not less.

Happy Budget Day

I hope you all had great fun watching the Federal Budget last night. Didn’t Peter Costello look dapper in his Sunday (or Tuesday) best – he was wearing a particularly spiffy stripey tie. He’s way too trendy to be a real Prime Ministerial candidate. I think Tony Abbott with his unfashionable satellite dish ears, and slightly elf like chin, is a much more realistic candidate. If you throw the “here’s my adopted-out non-son” nonsense into the mix he’s got the whole public sympathy thing happening too. Clearly that’s how John Howard got elected. Everyone felt sorry for the little man. I had a budget party by myself last night. How sad is that. I also installed a new hard drive in my computer and almost killed it. So I’m a nerd and a geek.

Today’s theory is that economists are the strangest people in the world – I base this theory on my two economist friends – Ben and Joe. Some of you will know both Ben and Joe, others will know one or the other, some of you will know neither. Suffice to say (that’s a grammatically incorrect figure of speech if ever I’ve seen one – there really should be an it’s before the Suffice, but that’s not how it works*)- they’re both weird. Anyway, I got a post budget email from Ben asking me what my opinion is on the government’s subsidy of childcare places – he’s not sure non-parents should be carrying the can for those who choose to reproduce. Here’s my response – copied directly from the email:

“On childcare – the reality is children are the future of our country, and a valuable resource that should be invested in. I think there are two ways to look at it – the government could provide financial assistance for parents who choose to stay at home and look after their children (meaning that childcare wouldn’t need to be such an issue) – essentially they do this with family allowance – but it could be a greater counter childcare incentive.
On the socio-economic side of things – it stands to reason that genetically some people will have more intelligent children than others – it worries me that “smart” people are increasingly choosing not to breed – and dumb people aren’t caring for and nurturing their children like smart people would – I think this will be a problem. On an interesting side note – there’s an economist who has tied decreasing crime stats in the US with the introduction of abortion – he’s that popular economist guy who writes those books. ”

Ben’s response used an analogy of a soccer coach who only invests in youth being narrow minded and not particularly likely to experience short term success.

Here’s my counter response:

“There’s no point spending lots of money on encouraging today’s generation to make as much money as possible if they’re going to die out – except that they’ll leave no heirs and the government will get the money. That’s an interesting form of investment – but the people the money will benefit in the long term will be children from broken homes, who have been educated through a crappy state system because they can’t afford private education and who have parents who haven’t been able to bring them up properly because they’re working to be able to buy their plasma screen TVs and luxury items.

By the same token – the parents with good jobs who work to put their kids through child care and pay for their plasma televisions will decide that economically it makes more sense not to have kids to begin with so they can buy bigger TVs and both work to make their lives more comfortable.

Inherent human selfishness will be the death of our society – the more self sufficient individuals society creates the smaller society becomes – those individuals become their own society and then die off. It’s a poor economic model – which is why children are our future – and it’s why Costello called for people to take one for the team and breed.

A good coach finds the right mixture of youth and experience (Chelsea – Robben and co, Crespo) a bad coach buys a bunch of guys who are in, or passing their prime (Real Madrid – Zidane, Figo etc) or invests only in youth and loses all their experience (I’d put Ferguson in that category at the moment, releasing experience in Beckham, Keane, et al and bringing in Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney).”

That’s the sort of thing I talk about with my strange friends. It’s pseudo-intellectual I guess, and very self serving (some rude people might say it’s a load of wank – but I’m not rude).

Now that I earn an income I say yay for tax cuts… and I’ll leave you with this asterixed point to check out.

*Sidenote on the English language – Micallef does this sketch as an arts critic filling in for a sports journo in a post match interview with a footballer who says “it all goes well for the finals” when of course the sports star should have said “it augers well” or “all bodes well” – his point was remade by the SMH a couple of weeks ago in an article highlighting the highjacking of language by our culture of stupidity. Read it here.

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