Covid crime in a class of its own

Breaking quarantine, social-distancing or mask-wearing laws are crimes in a class on their own.

They are so different from other crimes. The criminal act itself – just travelling around the place – in other times would be unpunishable normal conduct.

But the consequences of the crime are profoundly consequential – death of innocent people, widespread suffering and significant economic damage which itself can inflict death and ill-health.

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Two good things to come from Brexit

Friday is the 100 th anniversary of the Royal Assent to the UK Parliament’s Government of Ireland Act which partitioned the island of Ireland to provide two Parliaments, the Parliament of Southern Ireland and the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

It was an example of the great colonialist strategy of divide and rule. Well, 100 years later it is all coming unstuck. It is now a case of rule and divide.

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Lessons from the year of living precariously

As this year of living precariously draws to a close, it is worth reflecting why life in Australia is so much less precarious than in most other places on earth and what we should do to make it remain so.

For a start we should expunge from the lexicon the Reaganite nonsense that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

The things that have made life so much less precarious for Australians than Americans this year are mostly creations of government.

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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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