Archive for September, 2012

Nuts To You

Has there ever been a time when the slogan on this shirt was more appropriate?

I was so disappointed to hear that the German government has caved in to superstitious pressure and will now allow the mutilation of small boys after all. Surely they must have realised the sort of fuss that passing a law banning circumcision would cause? If they weren’t prepared to stand up against that then why pass it in the first place?

Dr. F. Bunny

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Be Smart Choose Tap

Recently I participated in one of those “fun” runs. I must admit that I used to think the term “fun run” was an oxymoron but I appear to have been converted and can feel myself getting quite twitchy if I don’t go out and hit the pavement at least a couple of times a week.

All the participants at this particular event were handed a plastic drink bottle that was labelled, “Be Smart, Choose Tap” which started me thinking about the bizarre bottled water industry.

I can understand bottled water in countries full of Giardia, cryptosporidium, Salmonella and who knows what else, but to purchase bottled water in Australia seems to be the height of lunacy. It has been a brilliant advertising and marketing scam to convince us that somehow water in a plastic bottle is superior to water out of a tap.

There is, however, no evidence to support this and I, for one, can’t see why I should pay for something that I can get for free. Apart from being ripped off by the bottled water merchants there is also the issue of depleting the aquifers that contain the stuff along with producing mountains of plastic waste. While it would be nice to think that water bottles are all recycled, apparently that only happens to 36% of them, with the rest going to landfill (http://www.yvw.com.au/Home/Inyourcommunity/ChooseTap/index.htm).

The irony is that the people who buy bottled water are probably concerned about their health and environmental health. Unfortunately, while they are not harming their own health they are certainly acting in a way that is detrimental to environmental health. So, like the slogan says, “Be Smart. Choose Tap.”

Dr. F. Bunny

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What’s Up Now, Skip?

Who’s that you’ve got with you, Skip?

An OBP. What’s that, an Ordinary Bloody Parrot?

Sorry, an orange bellied parrot. Handsome fellow. Why is he looking so glum?

Because there are only 36 of his friends left in the wild (http://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/no-flight-of-fancy-this-rare-bird-needs-to-be-caught-to-survive-20120901-257ji.html).

But there has been a captive breeding program going for nearly 20 years. Hasn’t this program been breeding birds to release back into the wild?

I see. The captive parrots have poor fertility, possibly because the founders are descended from only six birds. Why weren’t birds brought in from the wild to increase their genetic diversity?

Oh, permission to do exactly that was sought several times but wasn’t given until now. A bit like shutting the gate after the parrot has bolted, eh Skip?

But I thought they were doing okay in the wild? Weren’t there at least 150 birds as late as 2006? So what’s caused the population crash?

No one knows? But I read that there are plans to release birds into the wild this summer (which has been happening most summers for over ten years now). If we don’t know why numbers have declined so dramatically, and prior releases have failed to increase population numbers, and a lot of the captive birds are inbred then that doesn’t seem like such a great idea does it? Why are you looking at me like that?

Hold on. Who is that over there? It looks like an eastern barred bandicoot. Some of them have been released onto French Island. Unfortunately that is turning into a bit of a debacle too. While French Island is meant to be fox free it certainly isn’t feral cat free. There’s even a picture of a cat with a bandicoot in its mouth (http://bird.net.au/bird/index.php?title=Eastern_Barred_Bandicoot). Despite that bandicoots have still been released onto French Island and (surprise, surprise) they are being predated by the cats that live there (http://bird.net.au/bird/index.php?title=French_Island_Eastern_Barred_Bandicoot_Trial_Release). The New Zealanders did not start returning birds to their offshore islands until every last cat and rat had been eradicated from them. You would think the Australians would have learnt something from that. You are still looking at me strangely, Skip.

Dr. F. Bunny

 

 

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Ribbit, Ribbit, Debit, Ribbit

Apparently the Debit Tax is an Australian invention (http://debittax.com/). Its basic premise is to tax withdrawals from banks and financial institutions. This is done electronically each time a transaction occurs, so you won’t even feel it. The suggested amount is 0.33% of the total amount withdrawn. Why would we want to do this? If we had a Debit Tax of 0.33% in place we could scrap all other taxes. Imagine all the people living life in peace: no income tax, no GST, no sales tax, no capital gains tax, no stamp duty, no hassles. If you made and extracted $100,000 each year your total annual tax bill would come to $330. How does that compare with your current tax bill?

You are probably wondering how the government could function on such a miserly amount? How would the politicians fund their first class flights, pay for their drivers and afford their life time pensions?

It is estimated that each working day, in Australia, $200 billion is withdrawn from banks and financial institutions as a result of ordinary business and trading. A Debit Tax of 0.33% would raise approximately $660 million dollars for the government’s coffers each day. That sounds like a lot, but is it enough?

It is estimated that the Australian government needs $150 billion each year to function. If that daily Debit Tax amount is multiplied by 250 (approximately the number of working days in a year) it comes to about $165 billion, more than enough for the government’s operating needs with sufficient left over to pay off any outstanding debts.

So, if it’s so great, why don’t we have a Debit Tax? The usual reason i.e. the multinationals wouldn’t like it because it would force them to pay their fair share of tax. It has been estimated that about 90% of Australia’s current Gross National Product turnover is due to the activity of multinationals, who contribute only about 10% of the total tax take. As multinationals make significant political contributions it will come as no surprise that the politicians are not exactly falling over themselves to implement it.

More information can be found in this document from New Zealand: http://crash.ihug.co.nz/~tonycook/nzsdp/debittax.htm. If the Kiwis like it then it must be good.

Dr. F. Bunny

 

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