The idiocy driving road taxes

Short-sighted, uncoordinated, resource-misallocating, inequitable, environmentally destructive, ham-fisted and unhealthy are just some of the adjectives that apply to Victoria’s decision to impose a 2.5-cent-per-kilometre tax on electric vehicles.

Pretty standard fare for much of Australia’s dumb tax system.

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Fairer tax is possible, NSW shows

The announcement by the NSW Government that it will abolish stamp duty and replace it with an annual property tax proves that bold tax reform is possible beyond merely giving big socially destructive income-tax cuts to the wealthy.

The tax system is a redistributive vehicle. The vehicle can, on one hand, transfer vast amounts of money from the common wealth to a megawealthy elite or, on the other hand, transfer money from the wealthy to the commons.

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Dysfunction since 1980 for Biden to fix

The rise of Donald Trump was not the cause of US political dysfunction, but a mere symptom of it.

When Joe Biden gets a clear majority of the vote and Electoral College on Tuesday a side question will be whether Donald Trump goes willingly or has to be militarily crowbarred out of the White House before inauguration day. Either way he will go.

The real issue is whether Biden and his Vice President, Kamala Harris, can reverse not only the excesses of Trump but replace the whole rotten dysfunction of the American polity that set in with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

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Environment: Labor must get off the fence

Labor in Australia had better watch out. The Greens are coming for them. The results of last weekend’s ACT and New Zealand elections illustrate the point which will likely be reinforced in next weekend’s Queensland election.

Essentially, Labor has to end its ambivalent, two-faced approach to the electorate. It cannot be pro-coal, gas and manufacturing in regional Australia and at the same time hope to be seen as the party of renewable energy and climate action in the cities.

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Australia’s losing mentality

Australia’s increasing habit of choosing losers was highlighted again in the past week. Anyone but the most blinkered global-heating denier would know that Chinese demand for Australian coal would fall as renewables got cheaper and that China wants to take some leadership on emissions to fill the vacuum left by the US under Trump.

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An abdication of real government

The big questions this week are: what do governments do and why do they do them?

This week’s budget was an abdication of the fundamental reason for government: to do the things that must be done collectively, and cannot be done by individuals acting alone so as to nurture and protect people and society.

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‘Packing’ the US Supreme Court

Ominously for conservatives and the religious right, Joe Biden was silent during this week’s debate about whether he would “pack” the Supreme Court by expanding it from its present nine members.

He was asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether the Republican-controlled Senate’s unseemly rush to replace liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg with President Trump’s conservative nominee Amy Coney Barrett just before the election would prompt him to neutralise or reverse the balance of the court by increasing its size.

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Presidential? It was hardly a debate at all

It is unlikely that Joe Biden moved a single voter into his camp during the first presidential debate. But neither did Donald Trump.

Unlike many previous presidential debates, there were no killer moments. There was no projection of hope and vision, as with Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton or Obama, juxtaposed against an opponent’s shiftiness, ineptitude or past-their-use-by-date demeanour.

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