Looks might not kill, but they are certainly a magnet for money. Australian academics Andrew Leigh and Jeff Borland released research earlier this week confirming what we all secretly suspected: better looking Australians get hired first, earn more, and marry richer spouses.
Holding age, education, and origin fixed, the hourly wages of attractive people are around 20 per cent higher than their appearance-challenged contemporaries, reflecting similar conclusions in umpteen overseas studies.
The effect is especially pronounced for men: those with above average looks enjoy household incomes 15 per cent above the average, while more ‘minging’ chaps, as young Brits would say, earn 24 per cent below, a whopping gulf of around $30,000 a year, based on average Australian incomes, wholly owing to nature’s arbitrary favour.
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Australians are generous at heart. You see it when disaster strikes – drought, flood, fire – we all chip in and help out a friend in need.
And the truth is, that sort of community spirit is not only reserved for crises. Every day, through the taxes we pay, we help out the community. Our taxes pay for all the services that a free market, consisting of only self-interested individuals, would fail to provide: roads, transport, education, health care, help for the elderly, the sick, the poor and other community services.
No one likes paying tax, but most of us grudgingly accept tax is a necessary evil. Necessary for all the reasons mentioned above. Evil because all taxes distort behaviour, preventing transactions from occurring that would have otherwise had mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, dollars diverted to pay income taxes are dollars that could otherwise have been spent, increasing enjoyment and creating income for business.
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The Australian Greens may well be a sanctimonious blight on the national political landscape but I don’t see why they should be teased for eating lentils or tofu.
There is nothing wrong with lentils at all. They’re terrific. Dhal rocks, as does lentil salad with mint, peas, red onion and feta, and stewed lentils make the perfect base for a grilled sausage.
Anyone who doesn’t like tofu should try the kick-arse Chinese dish mapo tofu, which is fresh tofu served with spring onions, minced pork and heaps of chilli. If that still doesn’t work they should get along to a little place called Barbecue City in Adelaide’s Chinatown and order the tofu with broad beans and pickled cabbage. While there is nothing smart or clever about vegetarianism there is also nothing wrong with eating vegetables, and this vegetable dish is one of the best going around.
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The Government is transparently attempting to bore us to death with tax talk as part of this sop to Rob Oakeshott. So far the biggest surprise has been unions and business disagreeing with each other.
It’s safe to assume Prime Minister Julia Gillard would prefer to commit hara kiri with a blunt old pair of Tim Mathieson’s scissors than create more headlines that tie her and tax together, so they’re really hoping to fly under the radar. Treasurer Wayne Swan went so far as to warn any reform would be ‘painstaking’, a ‘slog’. Nothing to see here folks.
Well here at The Punch we think he’s underestimating the appeal of taxes. Look at the shenanigans we saw from the GST, the mining tax, and the carbon tax. Gadzooks, fun times! And while they’re off the cards at the Canberra gabfest, there are plenty of quirky and interesting taxes to talk about. Australia only has around 120 taxes, so there’s room for more. See here, we’ve put together a list for you.
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If the people looking after the nation’s bank account can’t estimate what it costs to take wealth with one hand and re-distribute it with the other, we are in trouble.
Millions of Australians interact daily with a system of swings and roundabouts called the Transfer System. It’s a complex network of welfare payments, concessions and benefits that involves all three tiers of government.
Retirees and families with children receive 63 percent of this pie so the changes that are inevitably made around Federal Budget time have a broad impact.
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When the going gets tough, life only gets tougher. That’s the feeling among many voters after last week’s federal Budget.
In trying to spread the burden of cuts in order to return the economy to a fiscal surplus in two years, the Gillard Government’s self-proclaimed “tough” Budget managed to land a blow to almost everyone from the unemployed to double-income households.
But it was the effect on middle-class families that has become one of the main battlegrounds in the aftermath of this Budget, with plans to freeze family payments to families on a combined income of more than $150,000 a year - saving the Government $2 billion.
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In sport, teams go to great lengths to paint themselves as the underdog. It’s a tired old tactic designed to lull the other team into unwittingly going a bit easier on them, and it rarely works.
The same principle has been eagerly adopted by families in the wake of this week’s budget, and the decision to freeze the indexing of family payments to families earning in excess of $150,000. And to some extent, the tactic appears to be working.
The logic of families at or just above the $150k threshold is pretty simple, and can be loosely summarised like this: We’re not rich. In fact, we’re struggling to get ahead. Gimme gimme gimme!
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Just a couple of days on the policy roundabouts of Canberra often seems like a fortnight, but sometimes it’s just not enough time.
You might have seen that the Gillard Government has lifted the lid on its long-awaited Tax Forum. It’s all about re-designing the way we collect, use and re-distribute wealth in this country.
To do that, it’s giving everybody the grand total of two days. Let’s put that in context.
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Not since Paul Keating introduced compulsory superannuation contributions in the early 1990s has there been such an important opportunity to change the way Australians think about saving for their retirement.
This urgent need for change is magnified when Australians are asked how much they actually know about their superannuation. A recent survey by Suncorp Life found 49 per cent of us don’t understand our super, and 30 per cent of us don’t believe our super is even our own money. Annual changes to the superannuation system are also a constant and frustrating occurrence. That’s why it’s vital for the Government to get it right this time.
The results of the much-anticipated Cooper Review announced last week urge a range of sweeping reforms to superannuation, and herald an exciting new era for the industry. The question is whether the Government is prepared to do what’s needed to simplify the system, and restore Australian’s confidence in superannuation.
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Since the release of the Government’s response to the Henry review on Sunday, Tony Abbott and other reform opponents have repeatedly and falsely claimed that only small businesses that are companies would benefit from the proposals. Mr Abbott said it again yesterday, and it’s an out-and-out lie.
Here’s the truth – every one of Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses will get a tax break under the Rudd Government.
Sole traders, partnerships and incorporated small businesses will all be able to deduct instantly the cost of assets valued at up to $5000. And these 2.4 million small businesses will be able to pool assets costing more than $5000 (other than long-lived assets) and write them off at a single rate of 30 per cent a year.
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After two years in the making and after sitting on the thing for almost 5 months we finally have the Rudd Government response to the Henry Review: tax the hell out of mining companies.
The Rudd Government’s revolutionary proposal following the release of the Henry Tax Review yesterday is pretty astounding in its lack of vision.
It’s not so much a “root and branch” overhaul of the tax system as it is a rocks and dirt one.
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The mining sector might have protected us from the harshest winds of the Global Financial Crisis, but according to Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan it’s no longer just making profits - it’s making “super profits”.
Ergo, these “super profits” can be “super taxed”.
It’s hard to argue with a “super” anything in a rhetorical war, which the Government is well and truly waging right now with the Opposition. By creating the narrative that the miners are so far in the black they qualify for a whole new category all of their own, it’s easier to gouge them.
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The Henry Tax Review has been released and the Rudd Government has formed its response. So what good things has the government done for the average Australian family? Not a great deal.
I know it’s a brash statement but when you think about it, the Henry Review is some 800 pages long, looking at things like housing affordability, childcare and family assistance. These are the things which families really care about because they are the biggest items which chew into the family budget and affect whether they have any spare cash or not.
But were any of these things mentioned in the Rudd Government’s response to the review which it’s been sitting on for months? The short answer is no.
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Four months after the federal government received Ken Henry’s recommendations for tax reform we still don’t have a clear indication of what that reform might look like.
While the Henry Review unquestionably provides a long term agenda for reform, overall the lack of intent and guidance around the government’s thinking is frustrating.
There is no doubt that Australia needs a simpler, more efficient taxation system.
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We’ll chart the reaction to the Henry tax review and the government’s response here as it unfolds. All times are AEST. Refresh the page for updates.
2:30 Live blog on the Daily Telegraph now with leading accountant Anthony Bell.
2:00 Wayne Swan’s interview on 2GB this morning has ended in a clash with 2GB host Ray Hadley listen here.
11:00 The Australian is reporting that Treasurer Wayne Swan has left the door open to adopting more review recommendations in the federal budget next week.
10.25am: The miners have copped it on the share market this morning. According to AAP on opening this morning: BHP Billiton was down $1.50, or 3.68 per cent, at $39.25 while Rio Tinto was down $3.79, or 5.26 per cent, at $68.31. Fortescue Metals Group fell 18 cents or 3.93 per cent, at $4.40 and gold miner Newcrest slipped $1.13, or 3.41 per cent, to $31.96.
10.22am: Joe Hockey’s on Brisbane radio 4BC right now. You can listen here.
10.05am: South Australian treasurer Kevin Foley reckons it’s a win for the mining companies. His comments are here on AdelaideNow.
9.49am: From ABC reporter Simon Cullen on Twitter: “Abbott says Rudd’s tax response is a bit of “political jiggery-pokery”... not sure how to spell that one…”
9.41am: Kevin Rudd’s going to march this morning in the Brisbane Labour Day parade. Am guessing he won’t want to get too close to the guys from the CFMEU.
9.18am: Choice reader comment from Adam:
I can see Swan reading the report…
Blah Blah Blah. Wow, mining can be taxed into oblivion. Thanks Henry.
Henry: What about the rest?
Swan: The what?
8.56am: More from Kochie ... the Sunrise host has been calling the government’s response “wimpy”. In a column for News Ltd papers today he elaborates on his view.
I suppose we should have all known this would happen. This was meant to be the tax version of the 2020 Summit. Nothing has come of that either.
8.54am: What the nation is reading... Well, it’s early days yet, ultimately it means very little and the Henry review wash-up will no doubt build interest as the day unfolds. But still, at The Australian:
and at news.com.au:
We’re on this story too: Punch fashion writer Nedahl Stelio has our coverage of the Logies red carpet here.
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South Australia stands at the edge of a potential golden era, a golden era of opportunity like the state has never seen before.
It turns out that South Australia sits on a giant bed of yellow cake that, if managed properly, will drive the state for generations. As China and India continue to grow at nearly 10% per year with no sign of stopping soon, their insatiable appetite for energy resources grows along with it.
For instance between now and 2050 China will require an additional terawatt of power just to sustain their current levels of growth. Given the desire to build emission free power plants, uranium is in high demand as a fuel of choice around the world particularly amongst developing countries.
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SQUASHED in a carriage like sardines, two bankers in striped suits bitched about a mutual client, then switched to moaning about how crowded and late the train was.
“Shouldn’t have to pay for this,” harrumphed one. “Bloody public transport. Should be free,” his mate chimed in.
If 10 strap-hangers and their sweaty armpits hadn’t blocked the path, I might have confronted the whingers with the fact no major world city has ever successfully run a free public transport system.
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