Australian Federal Opposition attacks responsible saving
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party has promised to introduce, if he wins government at the next election, a policy of abolishing franking tax credits for all but public pensioners (full or part). This policy is unreasonable and unfair. He has also hinted at further financial attacks on self-funded retirees.
I am a self-funded retiree who has just enough income and just enough assets to not qualify for even a part pension. I certainly would not call myself wealthy by any means. This proposed policy will only affect the moderately comfortable self-funded retirees as the genuinely wealthy ones will not be affected by it. Those wealthy ones will earn enough from their investments so that they will get their franking credits off their tax and would not be in the position to receive a franking credit tax rebate anyway.
Each year I donate a similar amount to worthwhile charities as I receive in franking credit rebates. The introduction of your policy would mean that I would not be in a position to make those charitable donations. My father was also a self-funded retiree who did not possess great wealth. Due to dementia he spent the last three years of his life in a nursing home. Because he was not on a pension he had to pay approx. $1500 a week for the nursing home (I personally saw the bills and receipts). The Rudd government introduced a tax on self-funded retirees in nursing homes. My father had to pay approx. $1500 a week extra tax on top of the nursing home charges (I personally saw those bills and receipts also).
Governments over the years have verbally encouraged people to save for their retirements where possible and not be a burden on the public purse. Yet those people who do just this and become self-funded retirees are often punished for their thrift and responsibility. This new policy will further exacerbate this situation if introduced. In times of economic uncertainty and likely government shortfalls in revenue do we really want to encourage more people to go on the government pension and take less responsibility in managing their own finances?
I have voted Labor most of the time over the years. However I will not be voting Labor while this policy remains and I imagine considerable numbers of other self-funded retirees will be doing the same.
Why I wrote this book
Although I was teaching at Cromer High School as the cold case disappearance of Lynette Dawson and the male teacher and schoolgirl sex rings were unfolding, and although I had first heard of the allegations of murder in the 90’s this intriguing case has nothing directly to do with my reasons for penning this tale.
In fact, the only and indirect reference to Cromer High in my story was somewhat a matter of chance. Much of my novel, “Brownout-666: or the real meaning of the swastika,” is based on real events. I could have written part of the story as a nonfiction work but, aside from the constant danger of being sued for liable or defamation, I also wanted to include my take on what is happening to human society and its disastrous consequences around the world. Political inaction on climate change, corruption and how greed and abject stupidity, along with short sightedness on many levels have all long concerned me.
In addition I wished to explore exploitative sexuality along with the passion of Eros and romantic love – hence the graphic sex scenes. In Australia of the 70s and 80s many young men were sexually frustrated. That in addition to the prevailing culture of the time probably caused a sexually exploitative and conquest attitude amongst many males. It is these themes that are common to “The Teacher’s Pet” podcast and my novel.
The word “Brownout” appears many times and has meaning on numerous levels. When I lived in the Philippines in the late 80s and early 90s I told people that one day I would write a book called “Brownout.” Brownouts or the sudden cutting of electricity supply were ubiquitous during my sojourns in that country. On another level the term has metaphorical meaning. Cultural clash or inability to deal with problems in a logical and systematic way is just like the dying of the light. Many of the problems that I experienced in the Philippines, including the massive corruption, exist everywhere but in more subtle forms.
Truth and justice are almost impossible to achieve but every year our world seems to slip further and further from those ideals. My novel is both a warning and a call to action for humanity.
Theresa May’s Brexit obsession is a recipe for disaster
Despite a number of prominent leaders in the UK, including two former PMs stating that a 2nd Brexit referendum is the only sensible thing to do, Mrs. May erroneously thinks that another referendum would further divide the nation. Perhaps her aim is simply to go down in history in a big way. The nation is already bitterly divided and headed downhill fast. A second referendum with all the options on the table is the only way to move forward.
Carrying on with her chosen course is only likely to divide the nation further. Scotland and Northern Ireland will demand independence referendums (the 2nd for Scotland and the first for Northern Ireland) and the breakup of the UK is a likely result. If this is not further dividing the UK then what is?
China’s uncompromising plan to take over much of the world
China, under President for life, Xi Xing Ping, has set a course to “conquer” as much of the world as possible, covertly (with bribery and bullying “loans” to small and vulnerable nations), overtly such as the takeover of much of the South China Sea and simple denial of historical fact as is the case concerning Taiwan.
The really terrifying aspect of China’s march is an apparent total lack of a moral compass. The current trial of China’s social credit system is “1984” stuff. Everyone is photographed and a file kept on the entire population. Those who are good Party members etc. can travel wherever they like and can afford. Others who might buy too much liquor or criticise the government, suddenly find themselves unable to even travel to the next town. They are stopped from boarding trains or buses etc.
The recent admission of genetic alteration of human embryos by a Chinese scientist could even be scarier. It is not a huge stretch to see a future where human embryos are altered to create model citizens and die-hard supporters of the Chinese government.
We should be afraid, very afraid.
The Teacher’s Pet, Chris Dawson and me
John Spencer, author of “Brownout-666: or the real meaning of the swastika” was a teacher at Sydney’s Cromer High School between 1979 and 1981 and personally knew many of the protagonists in this cold case probable murder and story of lust, schoolgirls, betrayal and improper sexuality that is currently grabbing headlines around the world and is the subject of The Teacher’s Pet podcast by Hedley Thomas of the “The Australian” newspaper.
John’s novel is largely based on true events and, while only making one indirect reference to Cromer High School, explores in depth many of the themes apparent in this podcast, including male predatory sexual behaviour from that era, changes to such attitudes over the decades and the legal ramifications thereof, older men pursuing young girls, and the particular socio/sexual problems of Australian men at that time that may have led to their hunter/conquest at-all-costs attitudes.
John’s book is available on Amazon and elsewhere.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is http://www.creativityandpower.com
The solution to the refugee crisis that is rocking the world is perhaps, glaringly simple. If people can have a safe and reasonable life in their homelands they are not going to risk the lives of their families in leaking boats in search of a future. They are not going to line up in thousands at the Mexico/USA border either.
It would be wise for the EU to make sure that Libya has a proper government, with or without any permission. Military force would be an option. Syria is a much more difficult problem because of the involvement of Putin and the Russians. Military action there is simply not a realistic possibility.
The thousands of refugees at the Mexican/USA border are predominantly from small central American countries where drug gangs simply run amok. It would be cheaper in the long run and more reasonable for the US to use force to clean up these small countries, with or without their cooperation, than to pursue the Trump Administration’s crazy anti-immigrant policies.
The only long term solution to the refugee crisis is to clean up and rebuild the countries from where the refugees are fleeing!
The Evil Triangle of World Power
Donald Trump Vladimir Putin Xi JingpIng
Donald Trump, to put it nicely, appears to be erratic, unable to formulate any reasonable and consistent policy and seems to lack the moral compass and integrity required for a U.S. president. His election campaign was centred round the phrase, “Make America great again.” It is more than unlikely that he will even vaguely succeed in this quest. Most of the good news about the U.S. economy is a result of the efforts of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has the aim of basically restoring the Soviet Union to its former powerful position and is prepared to invade countries (the Ukraine and Crimea) and overlook or contribute to the murder of innocents, including children (his support of Assad’s regime in Syria) in pursuit of this goal. He is pursuing any means available, including cyber warfare, in pursuit of his aim. He even had the temerity to tell Russians to prepare for possible nuclear attack. His mojo might as well be called, “Make Russia great again” and he is effectively conducting a semi-clandestine war against the West.
Xi Jinping, China’s president for life, wants to make the “reunification” of China his legacy. (One must remember that the original inhabitants of Taiwan were not Chinese, and that it is only in the last three centuries that large numbers of Chinese people inhabited that island. Taiwan is not, and was not, an integral part of China.) He has said that China is prepared to use force to take Taiwan.
He also desires to extend Chinese power as far into the Pacific as he possibly can. You might as well say that he wishes to make China great, or greater again and probably aims to make it the world’s number one super power. Again, questions of morality or legality are not even considered. Here we have another dangerous maniac in full flight.
These three presidents, Trump, Putin and Xi, are much more likely to cause a catastrophic nuclear war than achieve their aims. None of them knows how to be sensible, reasonable and back down when necessary. We have every reason to be scared, and much more so than in 1962.
Working Poor ruined by world financial system
Every day we are bombarded with assertions from many of the world’s governments that taxes for multinational corporations and very rich people should be lowered. “It’s good for the economy,” they say “and everybody will benefit.” When the costs of lowering such taxes are pointed out, the argument runs that since other countries are doing it we must also do it to remain competitive. Donald Trump grants huge tax concessions to the wealthy and so the other countries must follow suit.
In the somewhat optimistic decades of the 60’s and 70’s the vast majority of people wanted to raise the wages and living standards of those in third world and other poor countries. Mind you, they also believed that technology would allow shorter working hours and higher wages! Neither of those things happened. In both the third world and in the OECD countries working hours either stayed the same or increased and wages gradually declined against the relevant cost of living. The top 2% or so of the world, in terms of wealth, massively increased their standing while everybody else went backwards.
Without a voluntary surrendering of excess wealth nothing would ever improve. The exception proves the rule. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet make a very small proportion of the mega wealthy. It is likely that the rich getting richer and the poor becoming poorer will continue until the world’s entire financial system collapses.
Such economic collapse would surely be accompanied by social collapse. We haven’t yet even mentioned global warming, overpopulation and the aging of the population. Scary isn’t it?