Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Sure it can work (Score 1) 418

Oh, I remember them. I agree that the cost of living is lower in the US overall (though not as much as you'd think - health insurance costs a huge chunk each month in America that you wouldn't have to pay at all in Australia. Land taxes/rates are also much higher in the US ... at least in my state/county).

But we're purely talking about tax burden here and the idea that America has much lower taxes than other developed countries. That's true if you're comparing to Norway or something, but not if you're comparing to Australia, NZ, UK, Canada etc.

Comment Re:4/5 in favor (Score 2) 755

Yep - that's the great thing about this concept. It allows countries to get rid of unemployment allowances, low income benefits, old age pensions/security, student allowances, food stamps, all that stuff and replace it with a basic amount that everyone gets.

In many countries you effectively have a minimum income already, made of of some combination of government benefits, tax offsets/credits, etc. If you get rid of all that, and have a simple system where everyone gets a standard payment, and all income from the first dollar above that is taxed (with no random credits/offsets claimable due to low income or family situation etc.), you'd make billions in efficiency gains. As someone that works in IT delivering social services systems to governments, I have seen how ridiculously complex some of these programs are and the amount of money and manpower spent in administering them.

Comment Re:4/5 in favor (Score 1) 755

Chances are this minimum income will be pretty pathetic - not enough to live in anything other than borderline poverty. Similar to the amounts people get today for old-age pension, workseekers/unemployment benefit, student allowances etc. in various countries - you can't really live on it unless you are super frugal. I was on Youth Allowance (for young people in full-time education) in Australia for 5 years and it only really covered the rent with maybe a few bucks a week left over. I still had to have a part-time job on top of that to have enough money for clothes, food, car registration etc.

So assuming a universal minimum income would be of a similar magnitude, I don't think people will be quitting their jobs to live on the 'free money'!

Comment Re:Great thing, but can this really work? (Score 1) 418

It can still work. There are other OECD countries that are as diverse or more diverse than the US right? 18% of Canadians and 24% of Australians, for instance, were born in a different country (i.e. they are first generation immigrants, so this isn't even counting the many second-generation immigrants). The equivalent figure for the US is 13%. Walk down a street in Toronto or Melbourne and you see people from everywhere on earth, just as you do in NYC or San Francisco. And these are places with substantially generous leave (and other) entitlements.

America used to be relatively unique as the world's melting pot, true, but it's not 1960 anymore. Most other developed countries have diversity on par with or exceeding the US these days.

Comment Re:Sure it can work (Score 1) 418

Don't also forget the fact that 'basically everywhere else in the entire fucking [developed] world' also gets a legal minimum of 4-6 weeks of paid vacation every year too. Everyone, from CEO to burger flipper. Admittedly most white collar Americans DO at least receive some vacation from their companies, but the fact it's not required is a bit scary. And pity those working in smaller businesses or in blue collar occupations where the vacation is minimal at best.

Comment Re:Sure it can work (Score 3, Insightful) 418

Yet, as someone who moved from Australia (a place with much more generous vacation, parental leave, healthcare etc. benefits) to the US, after you factor in everything (Federal income tax, State income tax, Medicare, Social Security...), my overall tax burden per year on the same income in the two countries is identical almost down to the dollar. But I can tell you I get sweet FA for my tax dollars here, by comparison. I even pay into Social Security which I will likely never qualify to receive (since it requires being a citizen or LPR and to have worked at least a certain number of years in the US).

So I haven't personally experienced "much lower taxes" here in the US. Overall taxes are definitely lower than many European nations, for sure. But not lower than quite a few other OECD nations that still have a bigger welfare state than you guys. My theory is that it comes from the inefficiency of having to administer tax at all these different levels, whereas in Australia the only mandatory deduction from your pay is basically the Federal income tax ... that's it.

Comment Re:Great thing, but can this really work? (Score 1) 418

Don't see why not - it's the legal norm in many countries (which as far as I can tell, aren't falling apart at the seams). Where I live the standard is either 6 months at full pay, or 1 year a half-pay and it works well. I honestly don't understand how most Americans manage with so little parental leave available...

Comment Re:Sounds great! (Score 4, Insightful) 163

But hang on, how many cyclists out there, who are of age to drive, don't also own a car? Outside of dense inner-metro areas (NYC, London), virtually everyone owns a car.

The administrative costs of imposing and collecting bike registration (not to mention the relative difficulty of policing it, given that plenty of people own bikes but only ride on trails and other things that aren't city streets) would seem to outweigh the extra revenue it would bring in. Not to mention that you generally want to encourage bike riding as much as possible, for public health reasons, and the extra cost and inconvenience of having to register would probably drive away a lot of casual cyclists.

Comment Re:Crime (Score 1) 337

The poor, AND middle class I would argue. Much higher median wage, four weeks minimum paid statutory leave per year, for any job (even part time), plus 10 public holidays, plus cheaper healthcare. Those factors alone would make a huge difference to the average family.

Once you get up into the top 20% those factors cease to favour Australia over the US. And once you get into the top 5-10%, the US offers more paths to making really obscene amounts of money than Australia does.

Comment Re:What a load of horse shit (Score 1) 337

Australia probably does have overall higher property crime (burglaries). I'd rather that than violent crime though.

Rape stats are notoriously difficult to compare between countries as the definition and rates of reporting vary hugely, so I wouldn't read too much into that comparison. It's about like the comparisons of infant mortality that are often made that show the US doing very poorly - it's more to do with the fact that the US counts certain miscarriages and in-utero deaths that other countries don't.

Comment Re:What a load of horse shit (Score 1) 337

How long/how long ago did you live in Australia? A lot of that stuff isn't accurate, particularly the stuff about duopolies:

- Most urban areas have a choice of dozens of broadband providers, since there has been separation of ownership of infrastructure (physical lines) and services provided over that infrastructure (ISPs) for almost 15 years now. Some more remote areas may only have a couple of choices ... but the vast majority can purchase ADSL connections from 10+ national providers, and many also have access to cable, VDSL or fibre providers on top of that. On the contrary, it's the *US* that is characterized by broadband duopolies - in most places you have a choice of the local DSL monopoly and the local cable monopoly.

- Cars? Huh? Australia has a range of makes available as large as anywhere else in the world. Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, BMW, Volkwagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi, many others ... and some that you'd be hard pressed to find in the US (Euro makes like Skoda etc.) Perhaps you meant the choice of Australian-made vehicles? (in which case until recently limited you to Ford, GM, and some Toyotas)

Where Australia DOES have a stifling duopoly is in groceries: the two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, account for the vast majority of supermarkets in the country. Aldi is making some inroads and there are local grocers still holding in in some areas, but it's still a pretty sad state of affairs.

You're right about prices - the cost of living is quite high (though, with the AUD only at 74 US cents now, it's a good 30% cheaper than it was a few years ago, measured in US dollar terms). But median wage is significantly higher as well, which offsets that to an extent.

Comment Re:Guns (Score 1) 337

Simply because multiple mass shooting stories come out of the US every year. In most of the world such an event would be a horrifying once-in-a-decade news story, yet they are almost routine coming out of America ... enough that they are almost treated as a mundane event. A substantial portion of stories that come out of the US are about such violence or related matters. That, plus the prominence of guns (and how 'normalised' they appear to be) in many popular US television shows.

The result is that guns are what springs to mind when one thinks of the US, because that aspect of America is unique among developed countries. You pay attention to what's different about a place, not the majority of stuff that's similar.

Decades ago I'd say that the prevalence of fast food was the common 'US stereotype'. But now fast food chains dominate over most of the world, that's no longer unique to America.

Comment Re:I'd consider moving to Australia (Score 1) 337

As someone who's done both AU-US and US-AU moves (full moves, moving entire lives/house contents/jobs etc. between the two countries), it's not really ~that~ expensive. Under $10,000 will buy you the airfare, space on a shipping container for your furniture and goods, and the relevant visa/immigration fees (depending on visa type, of course). I was self-funded for one of my moves, my company paid for the other.

Not saying that's chump change but it's not out of reach for a middle class professional. Of course this was just me and the wife ... if you have kids then you have to consider disruption to their education and social lives etc, which makes the prospect less desirable.

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 1) 273

Hmm, I'm not sure about that. There are quite a few players in Australia as well - 2 majors (Qantas, Virgin) and a bunch of minors and LCCs (Jetstar, Tiger, etc.). Not all that different from the US with the three majors (post-merger), considering the US population is 15x greater.

And Sydney-Melbourne is the world's 3rd busiest route in terms of aircraft movements, and 5th busiest route in terms of number of passengers.* On both metrics it surpasses ~any~ single route in the US. So Aussies do know the value of frequency. And airport congestion in Australia is surely less than in the US (IAD, ORD, SFO etc are clusterf***s as soon as there's any kind of weather or other disruption).

I just think that the flying public in Australia simply wouldn't stand for some of the penny pinching moves that carriers do in the US - there'd be a revolt. The majors all run similar routes at similar frequencies and so they really do compete more on the passenger experience than the do in the US.

Don't get me wrong, I get the need for the RJs between mid-sized cities, of which the US has many and Australia not so much (Australian cities are oddly distributed in terms of size - they're either massive metros or tiny towns, not much in the 100k-500k range other than Canberra and a couple of others). It just seems weird to me that 70% of flights between say, Chicago and Toronto (two of the very biggest cities in North America) are on RJs.


Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.