On Israeli settlements

Jock Webb writes: Re. “On Dave Sharma” (Monday)

The Australian & Jewish Affairs Council is being highly disingenuous or even deceptive in its statements. While it might be unfair to attack the ambassador, the idea that there have been no settlements since 1999 is rubbish, as a quick perusal of this link will show. No legal ones, maybe, but many many settlements stealing land and protected by the IDF. As a long term admirer of the Jewish people and a former admirer of Israel, I find this letter detestable in its legalistic nonsense.

The Palestinians have a right to their land at least as good as the Zionists unless we accept that the old testament is a perpetual title. But then Israel was stolen from the Palestinians too, surely?

On the ‘deep state’

Ralph Brading writes: Re.”Not so Fast on the ‘deep state v Trump’ stuff” (Monday)
Bernard Keane’s ‘Deep States’ thoughts took me back to a similar term, ‘universal state’, used by English historian Arnold J. Toynbee, and I believe there are distinct parallels. Toynbee’s 10 volume ‘A Study of History’ burst like a WWII blockbuster on the world in the mid 1930’s and appears to have equally dramatically vanished in the mid 1950’s, but given the cyclic nature Toynbee assigned to all history, even literary, his may have been brought to life again by President Trump.
In his study of 19 world civilizations Toynbee assigned 5 ages, Genesis, Growth, Time of Troubles, Universal State and Disintegration.He also gave 3 groups of players, a Dominant Minority, an Internal Proletariat and an External Proletariat. Trump has  proved he belongs to the first group of the less than 300 potential Presidents by virtue of having the wealth required for modern campaigns. The military/ industrial/ intelligence belong to the second group and the basket fulls of Trump supporter,voters belong to the third.

This raises an interesting question. Which of the 5 ages has Trump placed himself and the USA in? I believe the answer, in Toynbee terms, lies in the last word in Trumps campaign, Make America great again.

On housing affordability

Dr Philip Dawson writes: Re. “How to solves housing affordability literally overnight” (Monday)

Adam mentions some good points but omits a problem affecting ordinary people and small business who don’t buy Vaucluse mansions for $60 million, but have to pay over $200,000 for a block to build on in rural and regional areas — even in remote WA and QLD mining towns, which may well have a limited life. The reason is land availability. In my area, third grade farmland sells for $500 an acre. Give it a building and subdivision zoning and before any services it sells for $250,000 for an eight acre block 20 minutes drive from the centre of Launceston. I suggest a moratorium on subdividing ANY first grade farmland ANYWHERE, and open zoning for the remaining land within a 50 year planning area around our cities (like Texas and other southern US states do). Then if the farmer keeps farming they only pay farming rates and are not forced to subdivide by high rates from rezoning. If they do subdivide, then the land is rated residential.

The open zoning could include various categories including commercial and light industrial with the usual restrictions on heavy industrial areas. It is estimated developers charge some $40,000 per block to put in the “services”. Due to a monopoly situation this figure is padded, so open this up to competition too, and it should drop by perhaps half. Furthermore all Aussie councils, even those in remote mining towns, wont allow you to live on a caravan on your block for more than three months while you build your house. Allow 2 years in most areas so someone can build their own house while holding down a job to pay for materials. Without any of the tax changes mentioned in the article this would drop the prices of new blocks for building on (the high price of which is at the heart of the shortage) to under $30,000 including the services. Kit homes can be purchased for around $40,000 so we could see the situation in the US Midwest where new homes can be bought for $US70,000 making housing affordable to all with a job. This may not drop the price of a vacant block in Vaucluse (if there are any), but who cares, it would drop the price on the outskirts of all our major cities, which is where the problem is. No one is building much because a new house in the sticks is more expensive than an older house in a closer in suburb. By all means tax the ultra wealthy, but don’t advocate taxing the family home of the poor. I suggest 0 capital gains or land tax on properties under $500,000 ( more than Australia’s median house price).

Peter Fray

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