Sunday, November 03, 2002

Public Service Announcement Happy Birthday to!

The nature of the beast Crikey, all states are not exactly the same just as all dogs are not exactly the same: whilst a libertarian such as myself might lambast the United States or the United Kingdom for many and varied sins, it is clear to all but the 'rationality impaired' that the USA and UK are currently significantly less harmful to their subjects than the likes of Iraq or Myanmar or China or Belarus or Zimbabwe.
· State Bites Dog [ (Underground) 2 November 2002]
When Alan Coren and Miles, not Margo, Kingston were the presiding geniuses behind Punch, it was worth reading. Kingston denies responsibilities for this gem: Samizdata - The glory of the English Courts. I stress that the transcript provided is likely to be fictional.
· M Kingston [Samizdata (Underground) 1 November 2002]

Spycatcher The cockup and the conspiracy

Theories of history are forever at war. Sometimes one has the chance to see both unfolding before one's eyes. First under communism, later in NSW Parliament and now the Internet. A German intelligence-gathering operation to uncover suspected terrorists and criminals went spectacularly wrong after bills for phone-tapping services were sent to people being bugged. A memo to German security service: if you must bug someone's phone, try not to send 'em an itemized bill.
· Whispering Walls [Telegraph (London) 3 November 2002]

People Fuller: Shock Corridor

For moviegoers to get the idea of real combat, you'd have to shoot at them every so often from either side of the screen. Immortalized by the Library of Congress for, among other things, its feisty image of a man being tackled by a group of crazed nymphomaniacs, the cold war drama Shock Corridor is set in a psychiatric hospital.
· Bigotry for breakfast and ignorance for supper [New York Times]

Death and Taxes Troubling Times

Is the unthinkable being thought? According to the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury is contemplating a complete overhaul of the tax code (link for subscribers only, I fear) :(

The Treasury Department is weighing proposals for a historic overhaul of the US tax code, including scrapping the current income tax and replacing it with something simpler. On the table are a range of familiar and not-so-familiar options, including a European-style, value-added tax, a national sales tax and a flat income tax. Officials also are mulling changes in the way the U.S. taxes multinational companies on their overseas income." Treasury officials say the decision to proceed with any major changes likely will take months of further study and approval from President Bush. Any proposals would be scrutinized for their impact on budget deficits and would prompt questions about their fairness to specific groups. In the end, an overhaul proposal likely would become an issue in the 2004 presidential election.
I fervently believe that the simpler a tax code is, the less scope there is for cheating, with the result that energy gets spent in more productive ways. Reagan's tax reforms demonstrated this. Those who might be hit worse by a switch to regressive taxes will benefit from more money being available to employ them. In the end, I believe everyone benefits. Perhaps Paul O'Neill doesn't deserve all the opprobrium directed at him over the past couple of years.

Afterlife is worth some thought aftertax
· I wouldn't have gone off the booze [Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) 3 November 2002]

Gough Whitlam exclusive

So E G Wanker says that Sir John Kerr was admitted to the Prince of Wales for drying out twice while he was GG. Kerr's private secretary Sir David Smith - yes, that bloke in that photo reading that proclamation on the steps of the old house - says he would have noticed if his boss wasn't there.

What do we conclude from this? Let's extrapolate. While Wanker's ego still powers on, his memory seems to be playing tricks. Perhaps the real story is Gough has Alzheimers. (Sober courtesy of Hillary Bray Crikey)