A super profits tax on banks:

Gavin R. Putland, Prosper Australia, writes: Re. “Accidental or not, Hockey gets it exactly right on banks” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane asks “is a super profits tax on banks worth considering?” Not if it’s confined to banks. Even less if it’s confined to mining companies instead.

I mean, at least the mining companies actually produce something, whereas the main business of the banks nowadays is borrowing overseas to lend against the domestic housing bubble. Thus Australia pays interest to foreign bond holders, not to acquire new productive capacity, but to maintain the wealth gap between the property-rich and the property-poor.

But there’s a strong case for a broad-based tax on the economic rent accruing to all corporations from all sources — provided of course that we abolish the existing corporate income tax. And because the new tax would apply to mining companies, the existing State mining royalties should also disappear — provided of course that the economic-rent tax collected from mines in each State is refunded to that State.

Yes, I’ve made a submission to that effect.

Jeff Ash writes: Bernard Keane was spot on his assessment of the banks “behaving like private companies” but requiring regulation like utilities. A Super Profits Tax on banks will only offend those with bank shares, and they are just going to rattle their jewellery.

The Brumby Dump:

David Moncrieff writes: Re. “The Brumby Dump: what the media missed”  (yesterday, item 2). Congratulations to Swinburne for teaching their students the real essence of how to find a yarn — hard graft. Forget Twitter — trawling through an annual report is where the real stories are!

Helen Miller writes: What a brilliant strategy on the part of Swinburne University and Crikey!  This approach could be adopted by universities all around the country and we would get much clearer information about all our governments. Congratulations to you both.

Kirill Reztsov writes: If you have 200 odd agencies and government departments that need to file annual reports, how should they be released? One annual report a day for 200 days? Fifty reports a day over four days? Four reports a week every week?

NSW Classifications legislation:

Simon Bush writes: Re. “Labor takes a casualty in anti-s-x move” (yesterday, item 13). Whilst not wishing to comment on the rights or wrongs of Mr Richardson’s own position on the NSW Classifications legislation introduced last month into the lower House around X rated material, he has made one incorrect assertion in that it is legitimate for a video shop owner to sell or rent films that are unclassified, whether they be porn (RC, X or R18+) or general family friendly films.

All films made available for sale or hire must be classified by the Board so not having any rating really gives them away as not doing the right thing. In 2006-07, the Government through the operation of the Classifications  Scheme received $6.9 million in fees from industry (majority from my members) in order to have their DVDs classified.

The Australian Visual Software Distributors Association (AVSDA) represents the DVD TV and film distribution industry and are firmly of the view that given the proliferation of digital distribution methods (a thing called the internet), that the archaic National Classifications Scheme needs wholesale reform including the role of the States. The games industry is attempting to get a R18+ classification for games, something that even the Catholic Archbishops support, but a stick in the mud State Attorney can stop any sensible reforms as we have seen through SCAG.

Richardson is right in one important respect, the politicians are more scared of the noisy minority than the majority common sense position; this from a “community standards” based classifications system! What we need is Federal leadership in classification reform to make it work in the world of digital content and multiple distribution channels.

The war on terror:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Video of the Day: Adam Bandt’s speech on Afghanistan” (yesterday, item 8). Adam Bandt’s premise that Australia is engaged in Afghanistan because the US asked it to be there serves the Australian argument about involvement but fails to illuminate the big picture question “why is the US in Afghanistan?”

Before the twin towers fell, Osama Bin Laden was asked in an interview what it would take to cease hostilities by his organization against the west, namely the US. His answer was simple enough “The US must get out of Arabia”. In short the US must economically decouple from Arabia to avoid future antagonism, such as September 11. Anyone who cares to peruse the Guy Debord literary classic Society of the Spectacle will recognize that the US is the ultimate “spectacle”  — totally hooked on consumption, sickeningly overweight, a grotesque spiritually bankrupt community chewing up world resources alarmingly, with a bevy of willing backslappers such as Australia, Britain, etc.

If the US cannot “survive” without dominating the resources of other countries then it must accept that terror is the price it must pay. And we as its doppelgangers must also pay. If China were to invade Australia for its resources then who would be surprised if Australians fought back, using whatever tactic given the inequality of the fight.

No, I am not endorsing terror. But if the west is seeking a solution then it should be prepared to slim down, demand less, unhook itself from the terrible addiction that has befallen it.

Our politicians have to grow up and get over the fundamental greed that has poisoned their thinking and morally bankrupted our society. Terrorism and economic domination go hand in hand.

We want to live like kings when most of the world goes without and not pay the price?  Tut tut.

The Catholic Church:

Michael Byrne writes: Re. “Come in Spinner: inside the prolific Vatican PR outfit” (yesterday, item 5). Noel Turnbull’s late flow of bile towards the Catholic Church lacks rigour, honesty and vigour. What a pastiche of integrity was his attribution to another person’s essay of a publicly broadcast comment by the fictional Dr Who character way back in 1977.

His statement that Mary MacKillop had problems with the Vatican is just so self-servingly wrong. It was the Vatican that saved her and her Order of Nuns from control by the local Bishops full of Irish nastiness.  His reliance on the tendentious, and debunked, recent work of Geoffrey Robertson to pad out his contribution shows lack of thought and effort.

If Adjunct Professor Turnbull is the public face of the media and communications academe then God help them and the young students under their apparent mind set control.  It really is a worry.

Climate change:

Nigel Brunel writes: Thanks Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) . I don’t believe in imaginary friends — climate or otherwise. What I do believe is that the planet has been heating up over the last few hundred years but as many rightly point out — it’s done that many times in the past. The point is what is causing this rise now? The balance of scientific evidence points to the planet trapping greenhouse gases.

In 1827 — Joseph Fourier discovered the planet was heating and in 1861 John Tyndall identified the gases responsible for trapping the heat. In a nutshell — these gasses oscillate in a way that interferes with longer — wavelength radiation that is reflected back from the earths’ surface. Some of these gases — such as HFC-23 are 11,000 times more potent than co2. Nature is not sending HFC23 into the atmosphere –we are! There are many sources of fluctuations like El Niño. Solar activity, orbit, volcanic activity but the underlying trend is strong.

The science is not a religion — scientists by their nature are sceptical and that’s what makes science robust. I welcome people like you to argue the case against but at the end of the day — the large majority of peer-reviewed scientific evidence is pointing to the cause of this problem and you need to present your evidence so it can be peer-reviewed with everyone else. It’s no good sniping from the cheap seats like Stadler & Waldorf.

Tamas — what if you are wrong? Are you prepared to take this risk? — because right now — it’s about risk management? If you had these risks in your personal life (that face the us) — you would take action. Of course — the public are sceptical — it’s a difficult subject to get your head around but scepticism must be based on something — it’s no good just parroting talking heads without understanding the subject.

The reality is — the vast majority are concerned about their environment, their kid’s future and the world at large. The mass hysteria is not collapsing. There are over 30 different carbon schemes around the world that are injecting a price of carbon into their economies.

It’s beyond the science now –we need public and economic policy to address the problem. Wake up and sniff the carbon mate.

Roger Clifton writes: I salute Tamas Calderwood’s use of religion to describe the social dynamics of climate change. In particular the revelation of CO2 emissions as human sin may reach a lot more people than the language of science.

He could actually take it further, describing an emission trading scheme as a system of indulgences. Thus the rich can buy the right to continue sinning. Further, the system of offsets resembles the payment of conscience money, where poor countries sell out their right to condemn the sins of the rich.

There are conservative and righteous people all over the world, who know little about science. But they would certainly have heard of the wicked and decadent people of the developed countries. By our emissions we condemn ourselves, in their eyes at least.

Whether they only pray that we are brought to judgement, or whether they would bring us to judgement themselves, is yet to be revealed.

Lorne F. Easton writes: Could Crikey please stop printing Mr. Tamas Calderwood’s unedifying rantings upon the subject of climate change? Like those of Mr. Ken Bracken, the views of Mr. Calderwood, being a product of his own confirmation bias, are but instances of a subculture of conspiracy perpetuated by internet resources and serviced their concomitant swathe of poorly-produced and unresearched documentary films.

This continual round of nonsense, rebuttal by others and avoidance and reframing is tedious in the extreme. Those interested in such discussion have their outlets, and it is best confined there until participants are able to formulate more compelling arguments.

Peter Fray

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