Archive for May 12th, 2012

Australia is perhaps my favorite country. In part this is because there have been some good economic reforms, such as personal retirement accounts.

But there’s more to life than public policy, and I like Australia because the people are so outgoing and friendly.

Though sometimes their outgoing friendliness, so to speak, creates opportunities for really stupid government policy. A judge in Australia has ruled, for instance, that a woman deserves employment compensation after injuring herself while having sex. Here are some of the remarkable details.

The battle for compensation is not over for a woman who was injured while having sex in a motel on a work trip. Comcare, the Federal Government workplace safety body, has lodged an appeal against the Federal Court decision that the public servant, aged in her late 30s, was entitled to workers’ compensation.Comcare is appealing the judgment on four grounds, including that the court was wrong in finding the woman’s injuries were caused “in the course of her employment”.She is claiming compensation for facial and psychological injuries suffered when a glass light fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount while the woman was having sex in November 2007.Justice John Nicholas said it was not relevant whether it was the woman or her partner – who she met about a month earlier – who pulled the light fitting from the wall.The Administrative Appeals Tribunal had earlier upheld Comcare’s decision, finding that sexual activity was “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay like showering, sleeping or eating”.”…She was involved in a recreational activity which her employer had not induced, encouraged or countenanced.”However Justice Nicholas overruled that decision and found in favour of the woman.

I have two reactions to this story.

Aussie sex position?

First, what am I doing wrong? How come I’ve never caused light fixtures to be pulled from a wall? That might be worth a facial injury.

Second, what sort of idiot judge concludes that an injury suffered during a sexual relationship entitles someone to get employment compensation money from taxpayers. Sounds like the Appeals Tribunal showed a lot more common sense in ruling that her sexcapades were a “recreational activity” and not “induced, encouraged or countenanced” by her employer.

I’ve come across lots of crazy government decisions in my time, but this is near the top of the list. Probably not as bad as the Greek government subsidizing pedophiles or demanding stool samples before letting entrepreneurs set up online companies, but still amazingly foolish.

It’s also at least as silly as the European courts that have ruled that there’s an entitlement to free soccer broadcasts and a right to satellite TV.

And it’s probably worse than the Finnish court that ruled there’s a right to broadband access, though not as nutty as the Bolivian decision that there’s a human right to receive stolen property.

In any event, at least the Australian government is appealing this moronic decision, so that’s another reason to think it’s a good country. Maybe when America falls apart and enters a Greek-style fiscal death spiral, I can emigrate.

Though I would still need to fight for freedom since Australia’s government does plenty of bad things, such as their version of wasteful “stimulus” and very shameful efforts to stifle political dissent on global warming hysteria.

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Last year, as part of the fight over the debt limit, Congress created a “super-committee” that was designed to produce at least $1.2 trillion of “deficit reduction.”

The statists saw this super-committee as a vehicle to seduce Republicans into a tax hike. They knew that some GOPers are perpetually gullible and would be susceptible to the siren song of a “balanced approach” – even though that inevitably means higher taxes and never-fulfilled promises of future spending restraint.

But they also had a back-up plan. They got Republicans to agree that there would be automatic spending cuts – known as sequestration – if the super-committee failed to produce an agreement. And they convinced GOPers that half of these automatic cuts would come from the defense budget, even though military spending is only about one-fourth of total federal spending.

The left figured that the threat of a military sequester would scare some pro-defense GOPers into supporting a tax hike. Maybe not as part of the super-committee deliberations, but perhaps as we got closer to January 1, 2013, which is when the sequester was scheduled to take effect.

Well, the super-committee thankfully didn’t reach an agreement because not enough Republicans were foolish enough to support a tax hike. But now the left’s back-up plan is being implemented. Senator Harry Reid, supported by the White House, is saying that the sequester will go into effect unless GOPers surrender to a tax hike. Here’s some of what the Associated Press reported.

President Barack Obama’s top Democratic ally in the Senate said Wednesday that he won’t block much-feared automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and Medicare providers from taking effect unless Republicans show more flexibility on cutting the budget deficit. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that $110 billion in automatic cuts coming due in January were designed to force both Republicans and Democrats to bargain over a “balanced approach” — including tax increases… The automatic cuts, known as a sequester, are the result of the failure of a deficit “supercommittee” to reach agreement last year. “Republicans refused to be reasonable. They refused to raise even a penny of new revenue, or ask millionaires to contribute their fair share to help reduce our deficit and our debt,” Reid said. “It is their intransigence — their refusal to compromise — that leaves us facing the threat of the sequester, and its difficult but balanced cuts.” Republicans controlling the House are seeking to undo the automatic cuts by substituting cuts to domestic programs like food aid, Obama’s health care law and social services like Meals on Wheels. …The White House proposed lifting the automatic cuts in its February budget, which called for tax increases on wealthier people and closing numerous tax breaks enjoyed by corporations. Even as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned the sequester would lead to a “hollowed out” military, White House officials have taken a hard line against incremental efforts to switch off the cuts.

So we are facing a big game of chicken. Democrats are holding the defense budget hostage and telling Republicans they have to raise taxes.

GOPers should tell them to go jump in a lake. A defense sequester would not be the end of the world. Far from it.

All that being said, I’m very sympathetic to Republicans who are seeking to replace some of the defense savings by trimming the growth of domestic programs.

After all, national defense is one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government. So even if the defense budget is bloated and the U.S. is wasting money on nation building, why not focus first on reducing and eliminating domestic programs that shouldn’t exist?

But even if you don’t care about the Constitution and enumerated powers, it certainly doesn’t seem right to make one-fourth of the budget swallow one-half of the savings. Why not make the sequester apply equally to all parts of the budget?

Those are good questions, but they’re not relevant in the hard-ball world of Washington politics. The real issue is what Republicans will do if (and when) Democrats don’t go along with the GOP plan. Will they then surrender to a tax hike?

That would be an unmitigated disaster. If the left knows that Republicans can be bullied into tax hikes by holding the defense budget hostage, then a tax hike today would simply be a down payment. Every time the statists want more money to feed a bloated welfare state, they’ll simply tell GOPers that the only alternative is “deep defense cuts.”

Republicans have a reputation for being the “stupid party.” I guess we’ll find out for sure if they allow themselves to get maneuvered into a tax hike. The first of many, by the way.

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