Rudd to take Axe to “middle class welfare”

As the Labor Government looks to cost-saving measures to ease budgetary pressures, it’s been revealed, that Prime Minister Rudd has so called “middle-class” welfare payments in his sights.

The Federal Government may slash welfare payments, including pensions for the rich and childcare subsidies, to contain government borrowing in the face of huge stimulus spending and weak tax revenue, a report said on Tuesday. This could include taking the axe to the controversial “baby bonus.”

The federal government’s finances are plunging into the red after six years of budget surpluses, weighed down by about A$53 billion ($36 billion) in stimulus measures and falling tax revenues as the economy slams into reverse.

The centre-left government is targeting child-care and health-care subsidies, pension-savings concessions for the wealthy and a A$5,000 ($3,394) bonus payment for having a baby.

Treasurer Wayne Swan this month said the budget for the year to end-June 2010, to be unveiled on May 12, would support demand in the economy and complement stimulus spending.

The government has said the extra spending and worsening global conditions will push its budget into a deficit equal to 1.9 percent of GDP in 2008/09 and 2.9 percent in 2009/10.

Senior ministers are now considering politically sensitive budget cuts to so-called “middle-class welfare” to keep real spending growth at 2 percent a year and return the budget to surplus.

Personally I’m delighted.

With recent news reports suggesting that one in four Australians may be joining the dole queue as a result of the recession, and Australia’s ageing population, the last thing we need is the continuation of some Government funded scheme that encourages young mothers to spurt out babies like a garden sprinkler only to have them compete for receeding jobs vacancies, join the dole queue and repeat the whole predictable process.

Six Months Old

A comment today triggered the fact that we are now six months old. Our first post was on the 29th Sept 2008. Since then we have had over 330,000 hits and over 30700 comments.

Well done to all.

reb and joni

China (non) Crisis

Or should it be China UnSyndrome?

We have been having some discussions around MP’s having trips to China and Israel, and what those trips are meant to achieve.

So let’s bring all that discussion into this thread and leave the other threads to their proper topic.

Torture – be careful what you wish for

In one of our previous threads on the use of torture by the US, Sparta said this:

Submitted on 2009/03/12 at 12:31pm

Joni,

Geez….yes I have read this one as well. Let me remind you one more time, EVIDENCE is not the same as an OPINION….even the opinion of a committee headed by one of the most liberal senators in the US who is obsessed with linking the former administration with a policy of torture! If the evidence is there, where is it and why do they wait? Where are the indictments Joni??????

Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA

Well, it looks like his wish could come true. Baltasar Garzón, who is a counter-terrorism judge in Spain has started criminal proceedings in Spain against 6 senior Bush officials.  So here come the indictments.

The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

Court documents say that, without their legal advice in a series of internal administration memos, “it would have been impossible to structure a legal framework that supported what happened [in Guantánamo]”.

From what I gather, the problem for the US is that they signed and ratified the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, which requires the signatory countries to “investigate allegations of torture committed on their territory or by their nationals, or extradite them to stand trial elsewhere”.

Maybe this will force the Obama administration to start proceedings in the US, or those on the list could have extradition proceedings started against them.

Oh – and last week the UK started criminal proceedings into MI5 to look into their part in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.

As we keep saying, those responsible for allow, permitting and creating the conditions in which torture took place should be held accountable for their actions.

Monday by The Magazine Rack…

magazine20rack

Hello,

Good afternoon and welcome to Monday by the Magazine Rack.

Our beginning of the working week/weekend retrospective thread where we can have a chit chat about anything that takes your fancy..

Vitamin supplements. I take a few every day. In fact I’ve just had one now. Two capsules of fish oil. They really should carry a warning – swallow immediately, because, as I’ve just discovered, if you allow the gelatinous coating to dissolve in your mouth, the taste of fish oil is quite disgusting. Like gagging back the leftover oil from a sardine can but about a hundred times more intense.

Anyway…

As part of my erstwhile responsibility as a ‘patron of the arts’ I am pleased to report that last night I had the privelage to attend the latest adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

This was a visually stunning production from Iceland which features the main character (the salesman who morphs into an insect) performing his part while suspended from the ceiling of the stage. The music was by Nick Cave. You can read a review of it here.

Now where did I put that ginko forte…..

Weekly “Economic Crisis” Thread

I thought I’d kick off this week’s “Economic Crisis” thread. I’m sure we’re going to see alot of cut & paste clips on how it is “all over but the singing” and how is “will get much worse before we see the new dawn”… and this is a good thing – I like the opposing viewpoints, especially when I see them both backed up by something other than our own rhetoric 🙂

That said, I was hoping we could perhaps go back a little bit on the timeline and look at the underlying causes. I’m not particularly interested in seeing the “he/she called it first”, but more “How this all came to be” in a legal & technical sense. I think we all agree “something” happened to the economic fabric as we’ve understood it for several decades, but I’m sure not alot of us know exactly what that was. Let’s see if we can enlighten our little corner of the blogosphere with some information, not just the buzz words our politicians and media keep spinning our way.

For my part, I have two sources of information – one slightly humerous and the other slightly… let’s just say the anti-capitalists will like it (-*wink*-). However, I chose both of these because they discuss the underlying reasons the economy tanked the way it did. I was forwarded the first one by a friend and chased down the second because it filled in a blank (what the hell a “credit default swap” is) I had in my overall picture.

Humorous Information:

Slightly Hysterical Information:

In its simplest form, a CDS is just a bet on an outcome. Say Bank A writes a million-dollar mortgage to the Pope for a town house in the West Village. Bank A wants to hedge its mortgage risk in case the Pope can’t make his monthly payments, so it buys CDS protection from Bank B, wherein it agrees to pay Bank B a premium of $1,000 a month for five years. In return, Bank B agrees to pay Bank A the full million-dollar value of the Pope’s mortgage if he defaults. In theory, Bank A is covered if the Pope goes on a meth binge and loses his job.

More at the Rolling Stone.

Voter’s Turn on Malcolm’s Bull

Just when it seems that Malcolm’s approval ratings cannot get any worse, they do.

The latest Herald/Nielsen poll shows Mr Rudd’s approval rating has risen to 74 per cent as Labor forges a crushing lead over the Coalition.

It reveals the electorate has stuck overwhelmingly with Mr Rudd and Labor since the global financial crisis began to bite into jobs and growth.

In an alarming turn for Mr Turnbull, more voters now disapprove of the job he is doing as Opposition Leader than approve.

I really suspect that the voters know that the GFC was not and is not caused by anything that is happening in this country. And that any attempt by the opposition to label this a “Rudd Recession” is clearly seen as cheap politics by the electorate.

Wont someone think of the conservatives?