Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Slap on wrist for murderer.

Michael Aller. A long history of violent acts against women. Including:

In 2008, breaching an AVO, sent intimidating & sexually degrading phone messages to a former partner. Followed by abusing her in the street and throwing a brick through her window.

2011, breached another AVO, punching another girl in the face in an RSL club.

2012, repeatedly stabbed partially paralysed Amy Alton in "a sustained and ferocious" attack, killing her.

The kind of homicidal maniac Blind Freddy could see we need off the streets.

Justice Peter Hidden has other ideas though. He said the thug has "a propensity for domestic abuse when drinking", and he's a serial offender. Then gave him a sentence of eleven and a half years for manslaughter.

Surely there has to be an appeal.

It was murder after a long history of violent acts which led up to it. Only a matter of time springs to mind. He should be in jail or a mental institution for life.

He was found not guilty of murder on the basis of 'substantial impairment'. What bullshit. It was murder. Nothing else.

If they want to take his mental state into account when sentencing, that's another thing entirely. But murder is murder. And it should carry an appropriate sentence.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Paranoid panic sets in

Paranoia and panic set in amongst a certain group during the lead-in to Easter and culminated in the oddly named Reclaim Australia demos on Easter Saturday.

The main cause of their panic seems to be that sharia law is about to be introduced.

(They also don't like food to be labelled as halal, although how that affects them I don't know, any more than food labelled kosher or unlabelled food does).

I've lived in a Muslim country, the UAE, and spent time in other Gulf states and other Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. I've lived in Christian countries such as Austalia and the UK and in predominently Buddhist Singapore, which also has large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities.

The people in all of them act in very much the same way in relation to their religion.

Just the same as the people you know, if you think about it.

Most don't give a toss.

In all the places I know some follow the faith to the letter, pray or go to the place of worship as often as required.

Many more go to the place of worship once a week or once in a while, or only on special days.

The vast majority don't do any of that.  While nominally of the religion, they don't go to the church/mosque/temple and have no formal contact with the religion.

For example, Christians only go to a church for weddings and funerals. So it is with Muslims.

In the UAE you hear the call to prayer but you don't see everyone rushing to the mosque any more than you see people here in Oz rushing to the church on Sundays. They simply carry on doing whatever it is they're doing.

With all religions only a small minority are passionate, fanatical about it.

That fact makes nonsense of the paranoia that sharia law is about to be forced on Australians.

We have around half a million people who say they're Muslim. If even an unlikely quarter of them wanted to live under sharia law, that's 125,000 people.

How do the Reclaim Australia mob work out that 125,000 people can impose sharia law on the other 25 million of us?

Here are some of them:

If that lot claim Australia I'm outa here.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The paranoids are out

The rain brought the loonies out today. Nothing much else to do on a typically rainy Easter weekend I guess.

The current banner they're gathering under is Reclaim Australia.

Apparently, if you're paranoid enough, all 2% of Muslims in Australia want Sharia law and are going to exert their will over the 98% majority to have it introduced for all of us.

Twitter, Facebook etc are full of stories and photos - most of them are along the lines of mobs of red faced macho men screaming abuse and jostling women who disagree with their bigotry, of red faced macho women screaming insults like 'I bet you went to university' at women who disagree with their bigotry.

I picked out some of my favourite photos:

Difficult word to spell, halal.  Or maybe he doesn't like someone called Hala...while she seems to want Russian dolls banned.

I'm not sure about this mob - are they anti-Roman/Italian? Or are they Italians seeking asylum?  I'm as confused as they seem to be.

And it goes without saying that tatts are on display:

I really loved this comment from Adelaide, although I'm sure it would have been beyond the understanding of the Reclaim Mob:

Then , as usual, a cartoon said it all in a few strokes of the pen and a few words:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Media's tax misrepresentation scare

I really get annoyed at the way the media so often misrepresents income tax, running scary headlines and going on to suggest we're inevitably going to be worse off.

Example today in Sydney Morning Herald, tellingly by-lined by Political Reporter, not economics reporter.

The heading is Average earners to pay more.

The scares continue: The average Australian worker will find themselves bumped into the second-highest income tax bracket in just over a year's time.

The nasty news is set out in the 200-page tax discussion paper, Re:think, released by the Abbott government on Monday. And it is, in large part, thanks to "bracket creep" - where wage earners inadvertently pay higher tax due to wage inflation.

With average annual wages hovering at $75,000 as of 2013/14, the average Australian worker currently sits within the third-highest tax bracket...But according to the paper, by 2016/17, the average full-time employee will find themselves bumped into the second-highest tax bracket, earning about $80,000 and having to pay the tax office $17,547 plus 37 cents for every dollar over $80,000.

Bumped up, nasty news, bracket creep, it's all in there. Disguise the facts so they don't get in the way of a good scare story.

Fortunately later in the story some common sense creeps in: Australia Institute senior economist Matt Grudnoff says it would be "silly" to assume that they would be no change in tax arrangements over the coming decade. 

"There would be no time ever in our history where [the government] hasn't shifted the tax brackets for ten years," he said.

"It's not based in any kind of reality."

Mr Grudnoff said the Treasury report's finding appeared designed to scare people, "rather than make any sort of informed, interesting point". 

There's the deliberately misleading...wage earners inadvertently pay higher tax due to wage inflation. Wage inflation is jargon for higher wages. If it was honest it would say that as people earn more money they will pay more tax. No scare story there though. 

At the end of the scare nonsense is a chart of actual tax rates, which shows what we all should know. As we move through the various thresholds, we pay a higher rate of tax on money above that threshold, not on all the money.

So taking the para about average wage moving up from $75,000 to $80,000pa, the worker will earn a gross $5,000 more, pay $1,025 more tax and end up $3,375 better off.

And, as Mr Grudnoff pointed out, the brackets are sure to be moved up anyway.

The problem is all too often not the way things are, it's the way they're misleadingly reported.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The family home myth

We have an obsession with property.

Constant chatter and media stories about the high cost of our housing, its unaffordability - especially for first home buyers.  The xenophobic and inaccurate complaint that it's all the fault of foreign, usually Chinese, investors. The probability of a bursting housing bubble. And 'the family home'.

With stupidly low interest rates combined with tax concessions for property investors there's bound to be high pricing.

But added to the mix is the fact that 'the family home' is in fact an increasingly rare thing, almost to the point of extinction now.

We actually treat 'the family home' as nothing more than a commodity to buy and sell to make a profit.

Example again this weekend. In addition to the properties for sale by private treaty, in Sydney there were 1,128 auctioned. Something approaching a thousand is a perfectly normal weekend.

Australia wide there are around 11 million residential dwellings, and about 600,000 are transferred every year. So the equivalent of the entire continent's housing stock changes hands every seventeen years. That's extraordinary turnover of 'then family home'.

Unless that changes - which it won't - even sensible interest rates won't have the effect we need. So we've brought the problems upon ourselves.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Killer tree

I love gum trees...if they're not in the wrong place. And the wrong place, as I've said on several occassions, is looming threateningly over our houses.

Bits fall out of gum trees throughout the year. Whole branches die off and without warning crash to the ground.

If they're over a house, a road, power lines, people, there's a disaster waiting to happen.

We had a near miss last night. A huge old gum tree two houses along the road decided to shed a huge branch.  It brought down the power line and crashed into the road, fortunately it was 2am and there was no traffic.

SES came out and cut it up, the electricity company brought a crane and re-connected the power lines and it was all tidied up in a few hours.

But, boy, with the amount of wood that came down it could have been a whole lot worse.

Murphy's Law

Good management is not only making sure the right thing is done but is just as importantly about stopping wrong things from happening.

In fact in my experience it's more about stoppinjg the wrong things from happening, human nature being what it is.

Surely we're all aware of Murphy's Law - if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. You have to anticipate that and put measures in place to prevent or mitigate it.

Airline management, and regulators, have, amazingly failed all travellers as witnessed by the catastrophe with Germanwings.

There are now reports of the mental illness of the co-pilot who murdered 149 people as he killed himself.  Inevitably there's plenty of comment about mental health issues, screening of people in responsible positions, psychological testing.

Of course that has to be done, but more importantly the blindingly obvious should have been done by all airlines and all regulators. NEVER should there be less than two people in an aircraft cockpit.

So blindingly obvious and so very simple to do.

I had always assumed it happened as a matter of course. I hadn't thought of a rogue pilot (although I seem to remember a Japanese pilot doing much the same thing some years ago) but simply because of illness. A pilot could faint, have a heart attack, an asthma attack or whatever.

That airlines around the world, and regulators, have not had this simple procedure in place since cockpit doors were barricaded beggars belief.

No-one, of course, will be called to account.