Sometimes there are things that appear in the media that just make you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example the tale of Duncan Storrar, the man on ABC's Q&A who dared to ask why the budget was looking after higher income earners while ignoring those on the lower end of the scale. For his trouble, Storrar was mercilessly attacked by sections of the media for everything from his tax record to his criminal history — all because he publicly dared to question the economic orthodoxy of the federal budget.
Remember the discussion the Coalition government was going to have with us about tax? You know, the one where “everything was on the table”? Well, the metaphorical table, which started off as an enormous boardroom centrepiece carved from oak is now looking more like a tatty old cardtable with a wonky leg, as more and more items are dropped. Even Treasurer Scott Morrison's near-daily mantra of "We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem" is apparently not resonating with most Australians.
The revelations from the Panama papers continue to reverberate around the world. While the Australian angle has so far been a bit anticlimactic, it did kick off a discussion about the banking sector and tax havens. Bill Shorten, in an uncharacteristic display of spinal-cord solidification, seized the initiative and announced that the Labor Party would conduct a Royal Commission into the banking industry if elected.
A recent cartoon by Bill Leake in The Australian gave me a good chuckle, although not for the reason you might expect. Captioned “The Road to Ruin” and featuring references to the recently published book of the same name, there was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at his local newsagent picking up “his” morning papers, sighing while saying “just the papers thanks”. The papers were the Sydney Star Observer with the headline “Marriage Equality special edition” and tucked in behind it was a copy of Green Left Weekly.
When looking at the world through the prism of the mainstream media it can sometimes be easy to get stuck in a pessimistic feedback loop. Take, for example, the US presidential primaries, where candidates vie to become the presidential candidate for their respective party. On the one hand there is the almost unstoppable rise of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race and, on the other, there is the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
"WOW. This is something you don't often see. Goldman Sachs says it may have to question capitalism itself." So went the tweet from Bloomberg TV correspondent Joseph Weisenthal. I wondered what could possibly cause one of the world’s largest investment banks, a company that is heavily invested in capitalism (both literally and figuratively) to “question capitalism itself”? Why isn't this bigger news?
Happy New Year for a few weeks ago or coming up in a couple of weeks, depending on whether you rely on a calendar or the moon for such things. I hope you had some time off and got to spend it relaxing with people you love, or if you were working, that you got plenty of time and a ... WATCH OUT FOR YOUR PENALTY RATES!!! Yes, that's right, while most of us were working or preparing for the strange rituals of the season, those busy little elves at the Productivity Commission had been slavishly working, day and night, to deliver a lovely big present to business and the government.
So the Malcolm Turnbull-led government thinks we need to reform the tax system. When looking at the extent to which multinational corporations are shirking their responsibilities in Australia, this sounds like a good thing.
Do you like listening to alternative music? Have you attended a protest for the environment? Congratulations! According to the Radicalisation Awareness Kit produced by the Australian government, you could be on your way to becoming a violent extremist.
If it wasn't painfully obvious before it should now be crystal clear now that there is no such thing as company loyalty. Loyalty from companies that is. ABC’s 4 Corners revealed last week that convenience store chain 7-Eleven was engaged in a wide-scale rip off of its workers by paying them below award wages, and in some cases below the minimum wage. It seems employees are fair game for the rapacious nature of capitalism.