Dangling modifiers (and subeditors)

Patrick Belton writes: Re. “Media briefs: Tele ‘exaggeration’ … Age execution … man: a hate story …” (yesterday). To be fair to The Age, it’s likely that it knows the difference between “exiled” and “executed”.  It was the former Afghan president, not his daughter, who was “executed” in 1996 by the Taliban. No doubt the confusion was caused by the poor placement of a pronoun (in the story) and awful wording of the headline; had Fairfax not misplaced all of its subeditors, perhaps the confusion could have been avoided.

The rich’s fair share 

Keith Binns writes: Re: “The mystery of Treasury’s disappearing revenue: Parkinson explains” (yesterday). You could also raise tax revenue by charging the rich correctly. A recent Herald article pointed out that the top .1% pay pay 10% of the tax collected. As they probably control 90-95% of the nation’s wealth (that’s the usual ballpark figure bandied about) then they’re only paying nine times less than they should. The day when the system no longer favours the very wealthy, as it does now, and high-profile tax evaders are named and shamed (Paul Hogan comes to mind) is the day we’ll get a fairer tax system. I’m not holding my breath.

A French (and German) lesson

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Raise the GST ” (yesterday). I want to add weight to the points Gavin Putland made about the GST. A good example of the effective use of a GST and the ineffective use of taxes on employment (The tax impact was an important reason to adopt GST here in Australia, replacing taxes that made Australia less competitive in exports and imports) was illustrated by an analysis by The Economist magazine with Germany and France respectively sometime back. Germany relies more on GST and less on direct employment and labour cost increasing social security contributions, etc, while France relies on the reverse. The Economist proposed that France may want to learn from Germany.

Over many years despite the integration of the EU Germany’s economic performance has been much better. Recent figures for Germany (and France) GDP growth 0.6% (-0.2%), unemployment 6.9% (11.0%), current account balance +6.1% of GDP (-1.8%), budget balance -0.3% of GDP (-4.0%), interest rates 1.38% (1.94%).

The unemployment and trade and current account difference between the two nations has been most striking.