Linkage Fury

February 16, 2009 at 12:10 am (Monday Morning links, Tom)

I like the link thing from last week. I’m fairly sure I’m going to be consistently late with my real post, so here’s a bunch of stuff to keep you occupied on Monday morning. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that I never seem to link to the dailykos. Mostly, that’s because I haven’t seen anything worth linking there for months. Might be time to find myself some new blogs…

Pitcairn Island

Beautiful one day, mindblowingly horrifying the next. Have a quick browse through the history of this weird little island dependency that kicked off with the mutiny on the HMAS Bounty and has ended up with 1 in 8 of the islands’ citizens currently serving sentences for rape (possibly NSFW). If you’ve ever wondered what would happen to humans isolated from the rest of the planet for 150ish years, here’s your answer. Don’t know what reminded me of this. Oh yeah, here’s their side of the story, for a bit of balance (Also links to things that are definitely NSFW).

Fair Work Telstra petition

I’ve already pimped it on Facebook, but it’s worth another link. The reason being that on Tuesday, I was out in the city, at my second actual strike action ever in two years as a union organiser. Contrary to popular perception, unions these days don’t strike very much. The main reason for this is that we’re democratic, and people have to be pretty angry with their employer to choose to forgo pay. For a majority of employees in a workplace to be so angry that they’re prepared to give up a day’s pay – that’s extremely unusual, in this day and age. Most of the things that would make people that angry are illegal, luckily. However, Telstra has pushed its employees to the point where they’re voting for strikes on a regular basis. You can find out more about why here on our campaigns page; but the basic theme is that Telstra is refusing to negotiate a single collective agreement, and is trying to get most of its workforce signed onto dodgy “employee collective agreements” while WorkChoices still allows it. After 1st July, they’ll have to start taking their staff seriously and negotiate a real deal, but thousands of Telstra staff could be trapped on WorkChoices-style contracts for up to five years after it commences, driving down wages and conditions across the entire communications and IT industries. Perhaps the cutest part of the scheme is that the contracts put existing staff on “Part A” conditions, and new staff on “Part B” conditions. Only current staff get to vote on these, so needless to say the Part B conditions are even worse than the already poor Part A. How’s that for freedom of choice?

And this on top of Sol’s 13.5 million dollar paycheck and their record profits last year. So, yeah, if you’re still with Telstra, ring them up, and let the person on the end of the phone know that you support their action. And sign the petition.

Flu Pandemic didn’t outfrag WWI!

Actually, it was strep-throat. Still, I’m not sure it debunks the essential point that the devastation of war is spread far beyond the battlefield. On the bright side, we’re possibly less likely to be wiped out by bird flu, since we can use our mighty antibiotics to fight all the hanger-on bugs.

The Tax Gap

If anything good comes out of this financial crisis, it’ll be greater scrutiny of how markets run, and their interactions with government. If we’re to accept that governments must be lenders, buyers and owners of last resort when things go wrong, then we should expect business to support the state during the boom times. However, across the world, businesses have become increasingly good at dodging tax by moving money between countries, minimising exposures, and structuring themselves in between the cracks of tax legislation. Kinda boring, definitely, but immensely important stuff. The Guardian is running a series of articles about how the arcane art of taxation – regulation, avoidance, minimisation and reform. I don’t have much of a grasp on the business side of this stuff, but politically, pretty interesting, considering the rhetoric coming from our former economic conservative, now social democrat PM Rudd. Tax reform has been promised since Keating – Costello never had the energy, focus or balls to do it his way, wouldn’t it be nice to see it happen on a friendly government’s watch? Oh yeah, I remember what reminded me of Pitcairn – it was Jersey, another British dependency of less than 100,000 population , outside of the control of the British parliament, and now one of the world’s great tax havens. I think old Betty Windsor might want to do a quick whip-around to her various islands – some of them are getting up to all kinds of no good.

Xenophon and the stimulus package.

Sorry, I know I’ve linked this elsewhere also. But yeah, Nick Xenophon, masterful media operator, Labor still finding its feet, and trying to act tougher than they really are, Greens surprisingly professional, did the hard work, Stephen Fielding is sincere but flakey, Turnbull is insincere and manipulative. It’s all my prejudices come at once! Crikey and the Canberra Times are the places to go for consistently insightful federal politics news. Also: Woohoo! $900! Possibly twice!

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