Shorten’s fix for imaginary inequality issue is to tax the rich

Shorten’s fix for imaginary inequality issue is to tax the rich, by Henry Ergas.

When Bill Shorten says “tax reform” what he means is the largest peacetime increase in tax rates since federation.

Under federal Labor’s plan for government the top marginal rate of personal income tax would rise to levels not seen since 1989; capital gains tax would jump to historic highs; and the elimination of negative gearing on existing properties, together with likely but not yet announced changes in the taxation of trusts, would further increase effective tax rates on personal income.

In international terms, our top income tax rates would be well above the average top rate in every region of the world, with taxpayers hitting those rates at lower incomes than elsewhere while benefiting from fewer exemptions and deductions.

As for capital gains tax, it would be the second highest among the advanced economies, with only Denmark taxing capital gains more harshly.

At the same time, by reversing the Coalition’s initial reduction in the company tax rate, and not proceeding with the further reductions to which the Coalition is committed, Labor would keep our effective tax rates on company income much higher than those in the other advanced economies, with the gap made all the greater by the fact that we apply those rates to a far broader base than do countries such as the US.

Those changes flatly contradict the recommendations of the Henry tax review, which Labor commissioned. That they would make our tax system even more inefficient, dragging down Australia’s prosperity, is beyond doubt.

Labor’s increase of the top personal rate to 49.5 per cent alone would decrease our economic wellbeing by 83c for every dollar of revenue raised, according to a calculation by Chris Murphy, whose model of the Australian economy was used by the Henry review to estimate the economic impacts of tax changes. …

And Murphy estimates that raising the company tax rate to 30 per cent, rather than the planned reduction to 25 per cent for all companies, would have a cost in terms of wellbeing of fully $2.39 for every dollar of tax revenue it allowed the government to retain. …


WK Hancock, whose Australia, published in 1930, remains unsurpassed as a study of our national character, regarded envy, cloaked in the language of fairness and leavened by the constant fear of being dudded, as the quintessential Australian vice.

“Properly anxious to run a fair race”, he wrote, Australian democracy “is improperly resentful if anybody runs a fast race”, with the result that “in its fear of the strong, it succumbs to the destructive vandalism of the weak”. The country’s “intellectually lazy” politicians could therefore trade all too easily on the tall poppy syndrome…

Blond British wombat Boris Johnson may redefine politics

Blond British wombat Boris Johnson may redefine politics, by Greg Sheridan.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, is an astonishing international brand. As the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove pointed out in his introduction at Johnson’s hilarious Sydney Town Hall lecture on Thursday night, hardly anyone else in the world is instantly recognisable by a single name — Madonna and Beyonce come to mind.

Because everyone expects Johnson to be funny all the time, they are primed to laugh at his jokes. And they are very good jokes, flawlessly delivered. But sometimes this reputation for wit and hilarity can get in the way of the big, substantial, real things Johnson wants to tell the world. …

There is a trace of genius in the way Johnson can defuse difficulties through humour, but it has become a bit of a burden as well. …

You will seldom hear Johnson complain about the press, British or foreign. He seems to have made a decision in principle always to be good humoured and positive. It’s a surprisingly powerful disposition but requires enormous discipline — that art which conceals an art — to maintain. …

Here is the larger question that haunts Johnson. Does his wit and humour and spontaneity render impossible a shot at national and international leadership? Is he prime minister material?

On the face of it, he is the most powerful campaigner in contemporary British politics. He twice won election as mayor of London, a Labour-friendly city not sympathetic to Tories. And then his personal campaigning was the X factor that got Brexit over the line in last year’s referendum.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Shorten Labor’s false road to fairness

Shorten Labor’s false road to fairness, by Paul Kelly.

Attempting to hold together the centre of politics, Treasurer Scott Morrison has launched his initial foray against Bill Shorten’s inequality crusade, warning that the politics of envy — “that someone has to do worse for you to do better” — is the road to ruin. …

The question is whether the Opposition Leader can control the tidal wave of ideological sentiment he has authorised as the Labor right — having moved to the left — now faces a Corbynite eruption from the left and from trade unions convinced that a pre-Thatcherite policy is an idea whose time has come.

“The Labor Party is taking us back to a pre-Whitlam time,” Morrison tells Inquirer. “This is not the Hawke-Keating approach — they knew equality was best achieved by creating jobs — but this is now retro Labor going back to the 1960s. …

Morrison is right to be alarmed: last year Shorten stole a long march on the Turnbull government by building his campaign on the misleading claim that Medicare was going to be privatised, and now he taps into a deep public sentiment to build the next campaign on the premise that Australia has failed the equity test. …

There are many elements folding into Shorten’s momentum. The single biggest element is generational hostility from the under-30s at exclusion from the Sydney/Melbourne housing market. The British experience was stunning — the key to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s surge was command of the youth vote and his fantastic pledge to abolish university tuition fees (at a cost of £9.5 billion, financed by taxing the better off). The ALP is already using every tool in the education debate to seize control of the youth vote from the Coalition and the Greens. What else might it pledge before the next election?

The current redistribution of income by government in Australia:

Asking what constitutes a fair society, Morrison said this week:

  • the poorest 20 per cent of householders, on average, get cash transfers and benefits worth eight times more than they pay in tax;
  • more than 40 per cent of families pay no net tax according to the Productivity Commission (other studies put this figure far higher);
  • the top 10 per cent of income taxpayers pay almost 50 per cent of total income tax; and
  • the top 1 per cent pay “a staggering 17 per cent of all tax received”.

Morrison calls this system “pretty fair” and says Labor’s plans for a further decisive change and even higher taxes are “ideology masquerading as fairness”. Given Shorten wants to shift the system towards greater redistribution as a priority, the issue becomes: what sort of society does this mean? …

How does Australia rate in global measures of inequality? Wilkins warns these measures are highly unreliable. But a recent OECD analysis shows Australia rates above the midpoint in terms of inequality, with 13 nations rated worse — including New Zealand, Britain and the US — and 21 nations rated better. …

Labor’s direction:

Shorten wants to eliminate tax breaks that favour the better-off — a justified move in terms of both tax equity and efficiency. Beyond that, Labor is fixated by the idea of zero-sum politics redistribution.

Are many Americans poor because Bill Gates is worth about US$90 billion? If Gates had never succeeded, would poorer Americans be better off? Is one person’s poverty because of another person’s success?

The logical answer is to repudiate such cause-effect propositions. But Labor jumps this hurdle with its political coupling of the process, witness Anthony Albanese on the ABC saying: “The wealthiest two Australians own as much as the bottom 20 per cent.” Game, set and match — there must be a link.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Australian selective public schools: NSW plans broader test to throw the school gates wide open

Australian selective public schools: NSW plans broader test to throw the school gates wide open, by Rosemary Neill.

Christina Ho admits she has given her forthcoming research paper, Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians, a contentious title.

Ho, a senior lecturer in the University of Technology Sydney’s arts and social sciences faculty … has critiqued everything from the “ethnically unbalanced’’ Asian domination of selective schools to “white flight’’ from highly diverse public schools.

Ho’s latest research is a qualitative study of Asian and Anglo-Australian parents and students who have experienced NSW selective high schools and primary schools’ opportunity classes.

With 19 selective schools, 29 semi-selective campuses and 76 primary schools with opportunity classes, NSW has the nation’s largest selective system. Ho’s study suggests white families often feel excluded from it.

The outspoken academic tells Inquirer she was surprised at the “level of anger and resentment’’ among Anglo-Australians about this. She says such parents “feel they are being shut out of the selective system because of the prevalence of tutoring, which they associate with Asian cultures’’.

“I was quite struck by just how deeply felt this anger was. There’s now this racialised hostility to ­tutoring among a lot of Anglo-Australian families.’’

Everyone knows, but the statistics are stark:

The federally funded MySchool website shows that typically 80 per cent to 95 per cent of the students who attend top-ranked NSW and Victorian selective schools are from non-English-speaking, usually Asian, backgrounds. Experts say most would have undergone intensive coaching to get into these elite classes and schools.

Ho’s study of 20 Anglo and Asian families found that even white families whose kids secured places in the NSW selective system felt “marginalised’’ within it. “They felt that the whole selective system was being used in a way that it wasn’t designed for,’’ she says.

They also felt the tutoring industry “has warped the selective school system, because it’s very difficult now in their experience to get a kid into the selective system if you haven’t had coaching. It’s something they don’t feel comfortable doing as parents.’’

Even the bureaucrats eventually have to sit up and take notice:

Now, however, after years of stubbornly denying the coaching industry’s impact on selective school entry, the NSW Education Department has decided to act. Last week Mark Scott, the department’s high-profile secretary, said the selective schools entry exam would be broadened in a bid to ­encourage more disadvantaged students into the system. …

He also says there is a “significant community perception that tutoring is necessary for successful entry and parents can spend more than $20,000 a year on preparation for OC (opportunity class) or selective high school tests’’. …

Scott’s comments mark a radical break with the department’s long-term refusal to acknowledge that intensively coached children are likelier to excel in the ­selective school entry exam than non-coached students.

Yes, coaching matters:

Australian Tutoring Association head Mohan Dhall says coaching centres would “probably not’’ be able to teach or rehearse an IQ test. …

He, too, welcomes Scott’s plan to broaden the selective entrance exam: “I think it’s good … At the moment we’re basing entry into a school on one particular test which isn’t publicly available and in which you can train kids in the item types. This means it isn’t ­always the most intelligent kids who get into the schools. It’s a mix of kids who are bright and those who have learned particular limited forms (of questions).’’

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Australia’s gold demise bar none … well, four

Australia’s gold demise bar none … well, four, by Paul Garvey.

In a vault deep in the basement of the Reserve Bank’s Martin Place headquarters in Sydney sits a hoard of gold bars worth about $US500,000 each — all four of them.

The RBA now holds almost the entirety of the nation’s gold in vaults administered by the Bank of England.

To add insult to injury to the nation’s gold devotees, the vaults are stuffed full of the redesigned $10 polymer banknotes awaiting official release in September. …

Australia sold its gold in 1997, in a sale timed to suppress the price of gold, to bury it forever, and replace it with government paper:

Then-treasurer Peter Costello agreed to sell most of its holdings in 1997.

The decision prompted cries of betrayal from the gold industry and, with the benefit of hindsight, was incredibly poorly timed. Since the sale of 167 tonnes of gold for $2.4 billion, or just over $400 an ounce, gold in Australian terms has rallied to record highs. The price peaked last July at $1819.44 an ounce, at which point the gold Australia sold for $2.4bn would have been worth $10.7bn. …

Australia is in the paper camp, with the monetary progressives:

The RBA’s current gold holdings, in the Bank of England’s vaults, now total just under 80 tonnes.

That’s less gold than is held by the central banks of Iraq, Poland and Romania, according to figures compiled by the World Gold Council, and is just a sliver of the amount held by similarly sized economies such as Spain (281.6 tonnes) and Russia (1706.8 tonnes).

Gold has been accepted as money most everywhere civilized for the last 5,000 years. Paper currencies come and go, usually ending in a storm of inflation and over-production to meet some crisis or other.

That storm will be on the West soon. We have record low interest rates, near zero, so next time there is a recession the only available tool for the central banks is “printing.” In addition, the debt load across society is greater by far than at anytime in history (courtesy of the great bubble, 1982 – 2008), and the temptation to inflate society out of its debt will become irresistible at some point.

Government got us into this mess, and government will keep digging until it collapses.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Whitehouse Shakeup: Reince Priebus Ousted

Whitehouse Shakeup: Reince Priebus Ousted, by Peter Baker.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing, was pushed out on Friday after a stormy six-month tenure, and President Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security and retired four-star Marine general. …

Mr. Priebus said after the announcement that he had always made clear to Mr. Trump that when the president thought it was time for a new chief, he would support that. “The president has a right to change directions,” he said on CNN. “The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it’s a good time to hit the reset button.”

He expressed no bitterness about his removal. “I’m always going to be a Trump fan,” he said. “I’m on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.” …

Mr. Trump has considered pushing out Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, according to a White House official who discussed internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity. Several conservative supporters of Mr. Bannon — including Representative Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus chairman — told Mr. Trump on Friday that the president would risk losing base supporters if he let the strategist go. …

During last year’s campaign, Mr. Priebus was slow to embrace Mr. Trump’s candidacy …  Mr. Trump often reminded people around him that Mr. Priebus had suggested that he consider dropping out after an “Access Hollywood” tape of Mr. Trump’s crude remarks about women was made public in October.

Germany’s Biggest Carmakers are a Cheating Cartel

Germany’s Biggest Carmakers are a Cheating Cartel, by Frank Dohmen. The diesel scandal was just the tip of the iceberg.

Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen are engaged in cutthroat competition to produce the best cars. At least that’s the story often told by auto company CEOs, economists and politicians. It’s a narrative about the beneficial effect of the market economy, which is based on competition among companies. But the narrative is wrong, and this is reflected in the convertible top.

Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen did not in fact compete over which company could offer its customers the best top. On the contrary, experts with the five automakers coordinated their actions in numerous meetings. For instance, they determined the maximum speed at which a driver could open or close the top.

“No arms race when it comes to speeds,” read the minutes of a meeting in Bad Kissingen. Arguments against an arms race, according to the minutes, were “costs, weight, increasing technological risk and crash relevance.” The result of that meeting is that the soft tops on the convertibles sold by Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen can only be opened and closed at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour.

It was an agreement that suspended both competition and the market economy. It was reached by the “working group for mechanical attachments.” There were many, many other working groups involving the five German automakers, including working groups for braking control systems, seating systems, air suspensions, clutches, gasoline engines and diesel engines. The major issues were discussed and arranged in these groups.

Reporting by DER SPIEGEL into the anti-cartel authorities in Brussels and Bonn, and automakers in Stuttgart, Munich and Wolfsburg, and conversations with current and former executives, provide a previously unknown image of Germany’s most important industry. The conclusion is that Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen often no longer compete with one another. Instead, they secretly cooperate, very closely, in fact, in the same way one would normally expect of the subsidiaries of a single company to work together, as something like a “German Cars Inc.” — or a cartel. …

It is not just a matter of the establishment of an exclusive club of the five German automakers with the goal of attaining economic advantages over the competition. The secret agreements are also detrimental to customers, who buy German vehicles because, among other things, they expect to be getting the best possible products from a technical standpoint. But how can a company produce the best if competition is curbed, and if the engineers stop doing their utmost to outdo the engineers working for other brands? …

And then there are the millions of owners of diesel cars. In an almost bizarre way, they too are victims of the German auto cartel. For the first time, there is proof that it was agreements among these five automakers that ultimately ensured that emissions from diesel vehicles were not cleaned as effectively as would have been technically possible. …

The cartel authorities face a Sisyphean task in their investigation of the auto cartel. There were more than 60 working groups in which the automakers cooperated. … More than 60 working groups and more than 1,000 meetings. …

Market principles were thwarted for their own advantage:

But beyond this known cooperation, apparently the companies, in their groups of five, secretly shut out the competition in many areas of vehicle development for years, thereby violating the basic principle of the market economy. …

It is standard practice in the industry to analyze competitors’ vehicles. The automakers buy cars, drive them and sometimes dismantle them. This is a complex and expensive undertaking.

The members of the group of five helped each other to facilitate these comparisons by exchanging data on such variables as the “driving resistance coefficient.” The Third-Party-Motor Analysis working group oversaw this effort. According to one employee, “the ‘give and take’ motto is correct and, in this manner, is also experienced in a friendly manner within the working group.”

This may not have posed a problem under cartel law if all automakers had been given access to the data, including competitors from France, Italy, Japan and the United States. But the members of the German group of five wanted it to remain an exclusive group. Inquiries from Jaguar, Volvo, Renault and Fiat were rejected. …

The individual cases described in the Volkswagen brief reveal that the German automakers live in two worlds. The one world, the hidden one, is characterized by a lively “give and take.” In the other world, the one on display at auto shows, the automakers act as if they were in bitter competition with each other.

American’s Got Talent and Hope

American’s Got Talent and Hope, by Gavin McInnes.

Most of us here agree that PC has taken over …

Political correctness has been around since the 1990s, but as Jim Goad points out, back then it was only on the fringes.

We had “separatist lesbians” who were working on creating a society without men. I remember them. They wouldn’t shake your hand because it was bad for the movement. They were also freaks nobody had heard of. Today it seems like they could run for office. They certainly wouldn’t look unusual in Europe.

Everywhere you look, far-left politics has infiltrated the mainstream, especially in pop culture. You can’t turn on the TV without a black neurosurgeon talking to a female Secret Service agent who’s a single mother of two. When they cut to a #cuckmercial it’s some bumbling dad trying to figure out how to open a can while his long-suffering wife rolls her eyes.

The racial ambiguity is getting ridiculous too. Aren’t there any white people on TV anymore? …

I decided to try to quantify this. … I decided to watch America’s Got Talent and focus on the commercials. What I learned was, I am completely wrong about PC taking over absolutely everything. I was letting one #cuckmercial stick in my craw and then ignoring everything that came before and after it. It’s like those guys who think they’re good at blackjack. They let selective memory push out all the failures and focus on the few times they’ve won. I was stunned to discover, commercials still seem to understand the free market and that pitching to nasty women who resent men isn’t good for business.

I’m not saying PC isn’t completely out of control. It has completely subsumed most mainstream media and all of Hollywood. I’m just saying that within this tiny litmus test, I was very surprised to notice I had completely exaggerated the problem in my own mind. …

When a #cuckmercial finally did come on I was almost relieved. These were the things I was convinced were absolutely everywhere. It was an Aflac commercial that starts with a baseball bat and a dad holding an ice pack to his brutally disfigured face. Mom arrives and the son explains, “Dad kind of walked into my swing,” to which she responds, “Don’t you mean Dad kind of walked into our Hawaii fund?” They all take a vote and decide the extra money Aflac awarded them should go to a vacation and not fixing Dad’s face. He reluctantly agrees and even gives the family a weak high five. It’s the classic anti-white-male, anti-patriarchy, anti-nuclear-family commercial that gets under your skin, but it was the only one in an hour of prime-time television. These annoy me so deeply I had duped myself into thinking they were absolutely everywhere.

In the end, the experiment was not at all what I expected it to be but good news nonetheless. PC is infecting our culture. We are battered over the head with anti-traditionalism everywhere we go, but it’s not yet ubiquitous. There are still outposts where the free market remembers that being a radical feminist separatist who hates men isn’t good for business.

Don’t. Talk. To. The. Media.

Don’t. Talk. To. The. Media. By Vox Day.

I don’t know if people’s egos are simply too tempted by the thought of appearing on camera or if they truly believe they are smarter than almost every single person who has been summoned to play punching bag before them, but it’s remarkable how whether a reasonable individual is conservative, Alt-Right, Alt-Lite, or simply nationalist, they are drawn like moths to the candleflame of the hostile media’s cameras. …

About an interview of Tommy Robinson by Piers Morgan:

Do you really not understand that you were there to be a punching bag? He was virtue-signaling at your expense. Don’t talk to the media! 

When you are approached by the media, be it Megyn Kelly, Piers Morgan, Wired, The New York Times, or The Atlantic, you must understand that they see you as the content du jour. And the content is always folded, spindled, and mutilated to fit their current Narrative, which is NOT the reason they will give you when they try to get you to talk to them or appear on their show.

Here is the thing. You don’t need the media. As Mike Cernovich points out, they need you. It is Piers Morgan whose name is on the headlines because Tommy Robinson was willing to make Morgan relevant today, not the other way around. Who is more relevant and has a bigger platform, Richard Spencer, who leaps to talk to the media, or Stefan Molyneux, who will not even return their emails?

And as both Mike and I have noticed, mainstream exposure doesn’t even move the needle. Not in terms of blog traffic, Twitter followers, or book sales. It is probable pain for no gain. Whereas whenever he goes on Infowars or I go on FreeDomainRadio, we see observable bumps in one or more metrics.

In light of this, I should mention that I am modifying my media policy. Previously, I had been willing to answer written questions posed to me by reporters in writing. I have now learned that they will never run those answers because they cannot use them to fit the Narrative. So, I will not be replying to any mainstream media inquiries that do not specifically, and solely, concern Castalia House books, Infogalactic, or games for which I am the lead designer.

Commenter Cail Corishev:

If you really want to be interviewed, have a friend interview you and run it on your own platform. Jones could hire a hot blonde model to call herself “Megan Kellie” and ask him some questions he prepared on his own show. It’d be funny, and more people would see it.

It’s like playing poker with a mob boss you know cheats. Even if, by some miracle, you overcome the cheating by him and his friends at the table and win all the money, he’s only going to have you shot and buried in the desert and take it all anyway. If you really kill them in your interview, they’re just going to bury it. There’s literally no way you can win by playing their game.

Commenter VD:

By going on their shows, you are helping THEM. They are not helping you. They hate you. They only pretend to tolerate you because doing so helps them.

Commenter Roger, with the opposing point of view:

When I was younger and still studying English as a second language, I used to watch the BBC World channel. One day I watched an interview of Nick Griffin by Tim Sebastian and thought at the time how thoroughly debunked Nick’s nasty ideology had been by that virtuous interviewer. However the “seed” of Nick’s ideas had been planted in my mind and I started to pay more attention to the news coming out of Britain and the rest of the Western world concerning the multicultural experiment and its consequences. Within a couple of years after watching that interview I came to the realization that Nick was right, and trying to get an important point across, whereas Tim was a propagandist prick who kept interrupting him with tendentious, emotional questions.

Perhaps taking that sort of risk is no longer necessary in this age of Youtube (as long as it remains a relatively open media space) however I believe that, as long as the dissident guest of an intended MSM smear campaign is capable of maintaining their cool and remind the viewer of the bias being displayed in addition to getting some of his points across, they can have a positive impact on a significant number of genuine open minded people.

Commenter Don’t be a Pussy:

Cernovich shouldn’t talk to the media because he sounds like a lisping fag. VD shouldn’t talk to the media because he comes off like a sperg. Tommy Robinson shouldn’t talk to the media because it’s way too easy to make him look like a soccer hooligan.

Milo and Gavin McInnes should talk to the media because they’re fast on their feet and cool.

Summary: if you’re good for the media, you’ll be asked to do media. The flip side is you should not take advice from people who the media find it easy to make fun of.

Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is the Best Thing Ever

Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is the Best Thing Ever, by James Delingpole.

It’s great because it trolls like a boss. …

It’s great because of the very sensible reasons the great Thomas Wictor advances in this typically astute Twitter thread:

As Wictor explains, “transgendered people have become political props used by angry leftists attempting to destroy everything they oppose.” They were also about to cost the U.S. taxpayer heinous amounts of money – perhaps $8.4 million a year – because, thanks to legislation introduced last year by President Obama, the Defense Department was liable for the cost of the gender reassignment surgery on any soldier whose ability to serve was “adversely affected by a medical condition or medical treatment related to their gender identity.

Not only were these transgender sensitivity policies burdening the military with unnecessary costs but they were also making it less effective. Wictor: “Talk to people who served in 2016. They’ll tell you that they spent a huge amount of time in sensitivity training seminars.” …

But maybe the most important reason of all why it’s great is this: President Trump just did – again – what literally no other leader in the world is doing right now. He took a step towards saving Western Civilization. …

The military exists for the defence of the realm. That’s why people are happy to pay for it in the form of taxation: not because uniforms are spiffy or because guns are cool or because every girl loves a soldier (though of course all those things are true) but in order that they can sleep safely in their beds at night confident that they are being protected from their nation’s enemies.

Any other purpose that has been introduced into the military over the years is mission creep – often self-destructive mission creep. …

Compare and contrast Trump’s fearless rejection of the transgender movement’s political agenda with the recent announcement by the UK Government’s Equalities Minister (!) Justine Greening that in future people in Britain should be free to decide their own “gender” regardless of medical opinion or what it says on their birth certificate.

As I argue in more detail here Greening’s move is the final nail in the coffin of the Conservative party in Britain. In the guise of “moving with the times” and “reaching out to the young” and “making marginalised minorities feel more comfortable in their skin” what it is in fact doing is rejecting one of the most basic tenets of Western Civilization. Indeed, it’s a flat out rejection of reality.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Great Again

Great Again, by Conrad Black.

Everyone who follows American affairs should understand that the country is now in what amounts to a second, but non-violent civil war. …

The Democrats and some of the Republicans smell blood and wish to see the Trump presidency destroyed and believe that to be possible. Some have been spooked by the malicious media carpet-bombing of the president; some actually think that there has been some impeachable offense committed, despite the absence of any evidence of one.

But most have never seen such an immediate and no holds-barred battle between the Washington power structure and a new administration.

Because Donald Trump took control of the Republican Party by running against all factions of both parties, and the Washington media and lobbyists, Hollywood, Wall Street and the campaign financing system (and financed his own campaign for the nomination), and pitched his appeal to those dissatisfied with the system, he won an astonishing series of victories even unto the White House, and banished the Bush-Clinton-Obama triumvirate that had ruled post-Reagan America. But all the other elements of the political class he assaulted remain in place and are swarming Washington like assassins in the most unstable days of the Roman Republic and Empire. ..

Certainly, the opportunities for Trump’s opponents have been enhanced by some of the president’s inconsistencies and indiscretions, but almost all of these would have been overlooked or thought amiable in a normal presidential honeymoon, in which everyone settles in comfortably, a halcyon fairness is accorded by the media, and public curiosity about the new residents of the White House is benignly informed. …

The antics of Trump’s enemies have exceeded all modern American standards of systematic dishonesty.

The arrival of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director is a sharp upward ratchet in the Trump game, and demonstrates a couple of his more impressive traits. The president does seek high-quality collaborators, as he did when his business was in crisis, and in forming his cabinet. He is highly determined and almost impossible to discourage. It has been a fierce battle these six months and both sides are escalating, which makes talk of bipartisanship especially absurd. …

There will never be any evidence of Trump-Kremlin collusion, and the whole concept is just self-serving Clintonian myth-making, that has flourished in the hothouse of Democrats unable to accept the election result, echoed by a partisan press that is a prop of the failed ancien regime Trump assaulted. This episode should disabuse the entire political class of the temptation to criminalize policy differences, a cancerous constitutional deformation ignited by Watergate, and nurtured by Iran-Contra and the nonsense of President Clinton’s peccadilloes.

What’s at stake:

Apart from the fact that this is war, what seems to escape notice is that if Trump fails, and however he fails, it will not bring a return to something good. It would be the return of those who gave America the initial under-reaction to terrorism, the housing bubble and world financial crisis, the elevation of Iran to preeminent influence in Iraq and much of the Middle East, then the North Korean crisis, the migrant humanitarian disaster, a flat-lined American economy hobbled with a back-breaking and under-funded welfare system, and the enthronement of political correctness to the point of official inability to utter the words “Islamist extremism.”

Not only should Trump win, he must win, to prevent the profound decline of America, and the rise to world leadership, as if on the other end of a teeter-totter, of China. That is what is at stake, not the president’s hairstyle, syntax, or tweeting habits.

How Australia can solve the F-35 JSF disaster

How Australia can solve the F-35 JSF disaster, by Robert Gottliebsen.

The horror of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) disaster looks like it is going to be uncovered in the UK rather than Australia. But, as the facts become known in Britain, even the most dimwitted of Australian politicians will understand that we have a deep problem.

However, the British Joint Strike Fighter crisis is actually worse than Australia.

Nevertheless, like Australia the British Parliament has been grossly misled about the costs involved.

The British politicians have been told that each Joint Strike Fighter will cost between £77 million and £100 million. Thanks to research work by Deborah Haynes, the defence editor of The Times, the British learned that the cost of the aircraft was actually more than £150 million.

Naturally, all the usual suspects said the journalist was wrong. But the British National Audit Office has had a good look at the real JSF costs. They estimate that by March 2021, the UK will have outlaid £5.8 billion on 21 JSF aircraft — a total of £276 million per aircraft.

But then there are extras which take the total cost to £7 billion for the 21 JSF or a total cost per aircraft of £333 million — that’s more than $US400 million and about twice The Times’ estimate, which did not include all the ancillary requirements. …

Even if you take out the necessary add ons, the UK audit office estimate of $US300 million per aircraft is more than three times what the Australian parliament thinks it is paying. Indeed, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said last month the per plane price had dropped to below $US100 million. While it’s true that the British version of the JSF is more costly than the Australian version, the difference is relatively minor.

To top it off, the British have been studying the video of the JSF at the Paris Air Show. Because the aircraft was flying at very high levels, those on the ground couldn’t really follow what was going on. But the videos showed that the JSF was really struggling despite some excellent flying by its test pilot. And just to rub the salt deep into the British wounds Moscow has had its own air show and showed off its new Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft which performed with unbelievable brilliance. There was no comparison. And, of course we all know, the Indonesians are going to buy the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft. …

A solution?

I rely on Airpower Australia, which has been unerringly accurate in this area over the past decade. They simply have done the sums that were not done in the defence department. And their solution is that the only way out of this mess is to bring together the JSF and the brilliant aircraft the F-22, which the US has stopped producing.

The JSF has some magnificent software. And if the two programs were brought together we could have an aircraft able to match the Russians and Chinese. If Britain and Australia came together there is a good chance that they could convince the Americans to go down this track. Because like the major Australian and US banks, the JSF program is now too big to fail. No matter what its deficiencies and costs, everyone is locked in to this total disaster. But the merger with the F-22 gives us a chance not to abandon the JSF program but to enhance it.