Friday, 31 October 2014

"Dressing down" might increase street harassment

Tiah Eckhard, a writer and model, has a really interesting observation on street harassment of women at She did an experiment where on day one she dressed down (no make up, wore a sweater, pants and running shoes) and day two she dressed up (full make up and hair, mini dress and high heels). She was harassed on day one but not day two.

Proving the odd pattern I had noticed since I started to dress up less. Not only did this prove that the crap society feeds us- that if we don't wear make-up and short skirts and instead 'cover up' and downplay our sexual appeal for our own 'safety'- is not just just ineffectual (for me at least), it downright contradicts it. I don't know if it's because a younger-looking or more casually dressed woman appears more vulnerable, to have lower standards or be easier prey. Or if aggressive or insecure men- the kind that would likely indulge in that sort of behavior- are intimidated by confident or good looking women, I don't know. What I do know, is following the ridiculous standards that stupid people expect us to in order to be responsible for our own safety, not only suppresses our autonomy over our appearance, but gets us nowhere, in regards to progression OR safety. So dress however you want, you have a right to. And remember that a swiftly wielded stiletto heel will do more damage to someone's face then a 2 gram foam Nike free-run.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Whitlam's economic record

Ian Verrender in Think Whitlam ruined our economy? Think again suggests that much of the criticism of the Whitlam Government's economic management is misplaced given the context of the times (much of the developed world, including the USA and UK did much worse over the same time period.

The cause of rising inequality in America

In Reaganomics, not QE, caused inequality Alan Kohler nails the real reason for growing inequality in America. If you only read one article on economics this year then read Kohler's.
Rising inequality began in the 1980s and was the direct result of Reaganomics, and more specifically President Reagan’s decision to cut the top marginal income tax rate from 70.1 to 28.4 per cent as well as the maximum capital gains tax rate to 20 per cent.

That had such a horrendous effect on the Federal budget that Reagan took back half the 1981 tax cut, but since then the top marginal tax rate in the US has remained lower than at any time since 1931, when it was raised from 25 to 63 per cent.
The benefits of the 1980s tax cuts for the rich were meant to trickle down, but they were captured and held onto instead, and now zero interest rates and quantitative easing are increasing the value of their assets.
Less than a decade after the repeal of Glass Steagall, the global banking system seized up, effectively insolvent.

At the risk of over-simplification, the Wall Street division of the Top One Percent sold too many mortgages to the lower classes that had been created by the failed ‘trickle-down’ economics of Reagan. Their inability to repay the loans both caused the crisis and drove them deeper into poverty.

American taxpayers then bailed out the banks and investment banks to the tune of $1,270 billion, but left mortgagees who had defaulted to their own devices. And the right-wing of the Republican Party ensured that the bailout was not paid for by increased taxes on the rich.

In fact, as Paul Krugman points out in today’s New York Times, “the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party”, has blocked any kind of government spending at all, including social programmes for the poor and public infrastructure.

Unfortunately, given our current Government's policies I fear we might be looking at a similar outcome in Australia.

An argument for negative gearing

In Negative gearing is not so negative Michael Pascoe argues that negative gearing is not necessarily a bad thing. As he writes, and this is something I've thought for a long time, the issue with housing affordability isn't the presence of investors but the lack of supply. On the positive side, the additional investors attracted by negative gearing increase the supply of rental accommodation in the market, this lowering rental costs.
More fundamentally, the article homed in on the negative gearing scapegoat because it only addressed the housing affordability question from one side of the equation – demand – and did not mention the other side – supply. Fixing the supply problem is a better way of solving the housing affordability problem than trying to arbitrarily restrict broad taxation principles for one particular sub-set of an asset class.
Increasing supply, given our population growth, is a much better way of equitably dealing with housing affordability.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

It appears Australia's health spending is not out of control

In Health spending crisis isn't real Ross Gittins has read the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's report on total health spending in 2012-13 and concludes that our health spending is not growing unsustainably:
So how unsustainable was the growth in 2012-13? Total spending on health goods and services was $147 billion, up a frightening 1.5 per cent on the previous year, after allowing for inflation. This was the lowest growth since the institute's records began in the mid-1980s, and  less than a third of the average annual growth over the past decade.

Allow for growth in the population, and average annual health spending of $6430 per person was actually down a touch in real terms.

It gets better (or worse if you've been one of the panic-merchants). That $147 billion is the combined spending on health by the federal government, state governments, private health funds and other insurers, plus you and me in direct, out-of-pocket payments on co-payments and such like.

So total spending may not have grown much, but the federal government's share of the tab rose faster than the rest, right? Err . . . no. The opposite, actually.

The feds' health spending in 2012-13 actually fell by 2.4 per cent in real terms. The states' spending rose by 1.5 per cent, but that left the combined government spend falling by 0.9 per cent.

So it was actually the private sector (including you and me) that accounted for  most of the overall increase in spending. This is a big problem for government?

By my reckoning, out-of-pocket payments by individuals rose by 6.9 per cent in real terms. The pollies seem to have been doing a good job of shunting health costs off onto us even before the latest onslaught.
The institute's latest figures show the federal government's real spending on health grew at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent over the five years to 2007-08, but by just 4.1 per cent over the five years to 2012-13.

Perhaps more significantly, they show that whereas the prices of health goods and services rose faster than the prices of all domestic goods and services by 0.7 per cent a year during the first five-year period, during the second period they rose by 0.2 per cent a year more slowly than other prices.

3 Ingredient Banana Bread Biscuit Recipe

Spotted on Facebook, 3 Ingredient Banana Bread Cookies recipe:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What IS really wants

In An ‘apocalyptic death cult’? What IS really wants Andrei Ghoukassian explains that rather than being a devastating terrorist organisation the Islamic State jihadi group is really a mid-sized militia.

The Wahhabi roots of Islamic Radicalism

The Islamic Supreme Council of America has an interesting post on Islamic Radicalism: Its Wahhabi Roots and Current Representation.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Keynesian economics is not left wing

In Is Keynesian Economics Left Wing? Mark Thomas quotes Simon Wren-Lewis arguing that Keynesian economics is not left wing. According to Wren-Lewis:
So my argument is that Keynesian theory is not left wing, because it is not about market failure - it is just about how the macroeconomy works. On the other hand anti-Keynesian views are often politically motivated, because the pivotal role the state plays in managing the macroeconomy does not fit the ideology.

Everyone has the same right to happiness

Ross Gittins discusses the work of Joshua Greene in Moral trade-offs are for the common good. I especially liked Green's comments on utilitarianism:
... happiness is what matters and everyone's happiness counts the same. This doesn't mean that everyone gets to be equally happy, but it does means than no one's happiness is inherently more valuable than anyone else's.


Susie Burrell describes the health benefits of nuts in Cashews, almonds, pistachios: how to go nuts for nutrition.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Did throwing drive human evolution

In How throwing helped humans conquer the world Rod Whiteley argues that skilled throwing might have been a major driver of human evolution, leading to intelligence and language.