Monday, May 10, 2010

Notes: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

(This first edition of Notes covers last Saturday to today, inclusive of both.) [Update, Tuesday, May 11, 2010, approx. 0400 hrs.: After posting this, I noticed that I had forgotten that I had opened the Blogger "New Post" screen on Monday (but didn't hit "PUBLISH POST" till Tuesday), so when I wrote that "This first edition of Notes covers last Saturday to today", by "today" I mean Tuesday, not Monday, as one might have inferred from the day and date given at the top of this post.]

Mr. Gittins on the Henry Review

I was disappointed but unsurprised to see, in The Daily Telegraph's recommendation-by-recommendation summary of the Henry Review last week, that one of the Review's recommendations was for the individual, rather than the family, to remain the basic unit for taxation. But perhaps this isn't such a bad thing, given that the Review's aim seems to be to make two-income families even better off relative to one-income families:
Now, it's clear from all the references to the ''tax and transfer system'' that one of the major goals of the review was to fully integrate the two systems - make them fit together better. That the two systems don't fit well can be seen from our frequent wrestling with the problem of high ''effective marginal tax rates''. Say a mother working full-time is considering moving to a tougher, higher-paying job. On each extra dollar she earns she would lose 31.5¢ in income tax. But she may also lose 30¢ in family benefit. If so, her marginal tax rate is, effectively, 61.5¢ in the dollar - well above the top tax rate of 46.5¢ and quite a disincentive.

It's clear the hope in getting the Henry review to look at the tax and transfer system was for it to find a comprehensive fix to the effective marginal tax problem.

But here's the scoop: it couldn't do it. After much effort it decided the two systems just couldn't be integrated. The problem is created by our love of means-testing, but is compounded because income tax is levied on the individual, whereas eligibility for transfer payments is based on the joint income of couples.

Its best suggestion was that the separate means tests for part A and part B of the family benefit be combined, with a single ''withdrawal rate'' of only 15¢ to 20¢ for each extra dollar of income earned.
(And here's another interesting figure from Mr. Gittins's article: "For every dollar the federal government gets in, more than 25¢ goes out in transfers.")

Ms Summers on fifty years of the Pill

Obviously I disagree with her on the liceity of contraception, but the article gives an insight into how the other side thinks.

Ms Smith on the N.S.W. State school ethics course

Here's a letter from yesterday's Herald:
Trial celebrates choice and parental responsibility

Date: May 10 2010


So what is the take-home lesson from the decimation of scripture classes by the ethics-course trial that Anglicans had predicted?

It's not a judgment on the quality of SRE classes, because it was parents who made the choice, without attending SRE classes or the trial classes. It's not a judgment on the quality of SRE teachers, because the ethics course teachers are simply civic-hearted volunteers like those SRE teachers who do not have theological or teaching qualifications (as many do). And it's not a judgment on the relative value of religion or ethics.

The take-home lesson is that the implementation of the ethics course created an ethical dilemma, which was the need to choose between ethics and religion when that choice should not have been necessary. The timetable slot is for SRE.

If the ethics course is not SRE, it should not be scheduled then and parents would not be forced to choose between a (heavily promoted) ethics course and religious education.

Claire Smith Roseville
And here's one from today's Herald:

All views count in schools blessed with tolerance

Date: May 11 2010


Claire Smith (Letters, May 10) is wrong. As a parent I am well aware of what goes in at an SRE class.

Over the years I've had to explain to my daughter that my wife and I will not end up burning in hell. I patiently had to explain the cultural difference between angels and fairies. I had to explain that the leaflet she had been told to bring home, which gave ''10 reasons why we know the Bible is true'', had no foundation in fact, that at best the evidence for the ''reasons'' given were dubious at best and outright lies at worst. So I do know what SRE is about. It is not about ethics; it is not about learning how religion has shaped our culture; it is definitely not learning about the life and nature of Jesus Christ. It is an attempt by the church to indoctrinate children, in the hope that it will put a few more bums on seats to bolster its falling numbers. And the reality is it doesn't work.

As for ''parents been forced to choose'', this too is a lie. Many parents have wanted for a long time an ethics and critical thinking alternative to SRE, preferably taught by trained teachers as opposed to ''civic hearted'' volunteers. Well, finally, some parents have a choice for their children, and the church is bleating.

Paul Gittings Russell Lea

So "[m]any parents have wanted for a long time an ethics and critical thinking alternative to SRE". Now you might be aware that not just the Catholic Church and the Protestant sects are opposed to the ethics course trial, but so too is the Teacher's Federation, not because it subscribes to the content taught in Scripture classes, but because separate ethics classes would imply that pupils receive inadequate ethical formation from teachers. But Mr. Gittings and, apparently, "[m]any [other] parents" think that State school teachers don't even give pupils adequate instruction in critical thinking!

Mr. van Onselen on the porosity of Mr. Turnbull
As will the perception, if not the reality, of being indiscreet ["need to be remedied"]. Turnbull described himself on the ABC's Australian Story last year as "the soul of indiscretion". After his arrival in John Howard's cabinet, it started to leak. After he lost the leadership showdown with Brendan Nelson following the 2007 election defeat, Nelson quickly started to be undermined. When Abbott defeated Turnbull for the leadership last December, a private conversation between Turnbull and Julie Bishop in which she allegedly bagged Abbott leaked.

At one level skulduggery is expected in politics, but practitioners need to be discreet. Turnbull would do well to steer clear of low-grade political manoeuvring. Apart from anything else, he isn't much good at it.
Msgr. Fellay's latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors

You might also want to check out the discussions on the Letter at and (at the latter, the comment by moon1234 — 8 May 2010 @ 4:10 am provides a useful recap on the status of the Second Vatican Council and its teachings).

Fr. Aidan (Nichols O.P.) and Mrs. Doorly on the Second Vatican Council and ecumenism

Ms Hogan on accusations of heresy

See also here and here for comment, by Terra and Mr. Schütz, respectively, about Ms Hogan's blog post. Someone ought to put Ms Hogan in her place and simply quote Fr. Küng on, say, the dogma of Papal infallibility.

Dr. Brown on St. Thomas Aquinas's doctrine on God as First Cause

Here's a fascinating comment by Dr. Robert Brown, a regular commenter at
[... Dr. Brown] would not agree that St Thomas was working from the notion of a created world. His arguments move via abstraction from sensible knowledge to metaphysical knowledge. From the fact that the limited being that comprises all material existence needs a cause (and that an infinite chain of essential causes is impossible), he arrives at the knowledge of the existence of the First Cause, Whom we call God.

The very fact of limited being means that it must have been created, and so there is nothing a priori about his concept of a created world.


Comment by robtbrown — 7 May 2010 @
11:41 pm
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Ss. Philip and James, Apostles, A.D. 2010

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