Economics just guesswork

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Ask the economists: we balance Swan’s books” (yesterday). At least one of your respondents had the honesty to say he did not know. Economics has never been — and never will be — a science. The closest you can get to it is assets v liabilities and hope like hell they balance. Yes, government debt is bad, but have a close look at private debt and you will be equally alarmed. The recent withdrawal of builders’ insurance companies from SA necessitating government underwriting and the failure of yet another Ponzi investment scheme in Queensland should signal to us all that the Cyprus disease is only a couple of years off.

When people’s super and banking accounts are under discussion in Canberra and the price of oil is about to go over $100 per barrel both government and those on the opposition benches are in exactly the same place as your economists. They don’t bloody know!

Brian Baynam writes: No mention anywhere about the massive tax-loss, deductible, costs of “negative gearing” or “diesel fuel rebates” to mining companies. Billions and billions of dollars every year. And wow! Alan Oster’s brave, credible support for the Resource Rent Tax: “Now that won’t help you over the next year, but it will help you over the next 20.” (My emphasis). Perhaps someone might even consider inter-generational equity  and setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund. And while we’re at it. why is GST such an all parties “sacred cow”?

It is inelegant and unproductive, work-intensive, with its repetitive handling of paper trails. GST? The Get-Stuffed-Tax.

Ducks’ fate even worse

Geoff Russell writes: Re. “How I got my gun licence and joined the duck hunters — in protest” (yesterday). Great article on duck shooting by Debbie Lustig. I’ve rescued ducks in four states and even done time in Yatala Prison for non-payment of a fine incurred in Victoria for such compassion. But being a gold medal pedant, I have to pull her up for two serious factual errors. The birds that “ball up” and fall vertically are rarely killed cleanly; they are generally alive when they hit the water but will certainly die, perhaps minutes later when the shooters wring their necks or perhaps after 20 or 30 seconds of struggling desperately.

The second mistake concerns: “With each hit, you tried to follow the body down …”. Not true. Many birds will be hit and show no flight deviation at all. How do I know this? X-ray studies of ducks that have recovered show many with embedded pellets that wouldn’t cause them to be downed coupled with macabre studies on what actually happens to birds with injuries serious enough to down them. They almost always die, eventually.  So the X-ray studies are picking up the ones you’d never recognise as crippled.

But Lustig’s article captured the barbarism of shooters and duck shooting extremely well. Hungers might wear suits and pass for normal in a cafe, but get them in a bunch out in a swamp and it’s Lord of the Flies all over again. They are evolution’s rejects.

Peter Fray

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