joe.toscano's blog

The Six Billion Dollar Conundrum

The Victorian state government raised 6 billion dollars from stamp duty last year. This tax is paid when people purchase property in Victoria. Billions of dollars in land tax that companies and people owning more than one property pay every year was also collected by the state government. On all available indicators Victoria and Australia is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Paradoxically, the Victorian Labor government’s response to this crisis is to destroy what’s left of the public housing sector.

Mechanics’ Institutes

Mechanics’ Institutes were radical, voluntary, self-help organisations which began in Scotland and England in the early 1800’s and soon were transplanted to the colonies. The first Mechanics’ Institute was established in Melbourne in 1839 just four years after the colonisation process began.

On the Wane

Blaming “the other” has recently been a sure fire way of winning political office in nominally democratic societies. President Donald Groper’s United States electoral campaign was a text book example of how blaming the other can pay political dividends.

Whether it’s the Divided Nation crowd in Australia, the National Front in France or a host of other parties that build their political fortunes on blaming their country’s ills on “the other”, blaming “the other” has paid handsome political dividends in terms of parliamentary seats won.

Lucky

If I hear one more guest on a radio show, television show, newspaper column, YouTube video or the world wide web tell me how lucky, that’s right, lucky we are because Australians have access to public hospitals, public health, overtime payments, workplace awards, holiday pay, long service leave, sick pay, maternity leave etc, I’m going to scream! I know of no other country where people have such scant knowledge about why most, not all, Australians enjoy these privileges.

Cyber Slavery

The transformation of the Roman Republic into a hereditary dictatorship was directly related to the increasingly important role slaves played in the Roman Empire. The military expansion of the Roman Empire was accompanied by a dramatic increase in the number of slaves in Roman society. The pivotal role plebeians (members of the Roman working class) played in the expansion of the empire became less important as the number of slaves the patricians (ancient Roman nobility) acquired as the Roman Empire expanded during periods of military conquests.

One Hundred Days

I forgive President Donald Groper Trump for being a racist, a misogynist and for cornering the market on fake news but I can’t forgive him for being a dodgy tax evading billionaire. I feel sorry for all those Americans who, sickened by the state of United States business as usual politics, decided to cast their vote for the Groper. I also feel sorry for those 50% of eligible electors who are so disillusioned with what is laughingly called democratic politics in the United States who didn’t even bother to show up at the polls.

An arrow across Chevron’s bow

Take a bow, warrior, your bow has shot an arrow across Chevron’s bow. The full bench of the Federal Court has found Chevron, the transnational corporation that’s developing our gas on the North West Shelf, who covered themselves with glory by paying $254 (that’s right two hundred and fifty four dollars) tax in 2015 while making millions of dollars of profit, has been rorting the system.

Who Will Respond?

Letter sent to all Members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

Workers At Either End of the Bayonet

I’ve never understood Australians fascination with ANZAC Day. On the 25th April 1915 a British force with an Australian contingent invaded the Dardanelles in an attempt to force the Ottoman Empire (Germany’s major ally) out of the war. The invasion was a failure. Over 8,000 Australians died in a campaign that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 soldiers on both sides.

The Death of the ANZAC Intellectual

One of the most important reasons rational thought has been replaced by opinions and belief systems in 21st century Western society is the death of the public intellectual. Historically public intellectual’s ideas were respected by communities that understood the ideas that were put up for public discussion were independent of prevailing ideological, political and theological concerns. The public knew the public intellectual was able to provide an unbiased opinion because they were independent of the institution that employed them and the state.

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