BohemiAntipodean Samizdat

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I was once a stranger in Sydney, a long time ago ;-)

Today and after St Patrick and sT jOZEF'S NAME I feel like a veteran who has spent many Easters at June's place among so many lovely friends ..

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along
Listen to this lovely song from Irish Czech haven Falling Slowly Falling slowly, eyes that know me And I can't go back Moods that take me and erase me ...

If it's my last breath: as certain as death Following the money
There’s a juicy little scandal unfolding in in Liechtenstein — whose national slogan might as well be “Why Pay Taxes?”

Spies, whistle-blowers and threats: tax haven is called to account
The day that Toytown went to war, the traffic stopped. For more than a week Liechtenstein (population 35,000) and Germany (population 82 million) have been locked in an extraordinary row involving spies, bankers, a whistle-blower with a shady past, a furious prince – and tens of thousands of well-heeled but anonymous tax evaders. From Britain, from the United States, but, above all, from Germany.

Revelations concerning payment by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) of £100,000 to Heinrich Kieber, a former Liechtenstein banker, for details of secret offshore bank accounts held by British taxpayers raises a serious moral dilemma about how tax evasion is combated in modern times.
During the 17th century the practice of rewarding informers was reviled by the common law, with Chief Justice Coke describing informers as "viperous vermin" who "vexed the subject for malice or private ends".
But the ending of the Star Chamber precipitated a paradigm attitudinal shift.
Writing in the 18th century, Jeremy Bentham described an informer favourably as a servant of the government employed in opposing the enemies of the State Certainly by the 19th century it was common practice for an informer to receive a moiety of any penalty recovered in a revenue matter.
In 1868 Parliament codified the position by empowering the Commissioners of Inland Revenue at their discretion to reward any person who informed them of the commission of a revenue offence.
The present law is wider and enables HMRC to pay a reward to any person "in return for a service which relates to a function of the Commissioners or an officer of Revenue and Customs

Haven of fears; [Helping evasion is distinct from legitimate tax competition. Monaco or Bermuda or Switzerland are fully entitled to set low rates of personal and business tax to attract wealthy individuals and companies to their jurisdiction. What is not acceptable is helping those who live elsewhere to evade the taxes that they owe Haven evasion ; Trounced on tax: raids aim to halt Europe's havens ]
• · Tax authorities tread fine line. Australian Financial Review, 06/03/2008, Editorials, page 78. Wealthy Australians with bank accounts in 'unco-operative' tax havens such as Liechtenstein and Monaco must be opening their copies of The Australian Financial Review with trepidation these days. The shield of tax haven bank secrecy is easier to pierce, and now the case of the stolen Liechtenstein bank records is taking on a life of its own….
We should not be too squeamish about this. Concealing income from tax authorities is blatant evasion without even the pretence of legal avoidance, and a serious crime that deserves to be prosecuted with the full weight of the law. But tax authorities must exercise their powers properly. And governments of rich countries need to accept that their high taxes make the tax evasion industry more lucrative. There appears to be a change in the political mood ; Helping evasion is distinct from legitimate tax competition. Monaco or Bermuda or Switzerland are fully entitled to set low rates of personal and business tax to attract wealthy individuals and companies to their jurisdiction. What is not acceptable is helping those who live elsewhere to evade the taxes that they owe List of tax havens
• · In the 1980s and 1990s, the public began to protest the large compensation packages executives were receiving. Average workers were struggling while executives got raises, even as the corporations they worked for failed. This disconnect between executive compensation and executive performance led Congress to attempt to curtail executive compensation. In 1980, the average CEO made 42 times the average hourly worker's pay. By 1990, the average CEO made 107 times the average hourly worker's pay. In 1993, Congress enacted tax legislation intended to rein in excessive executive compensation. However, in 2000, the average CEO made 525 times the average hourly worker's pay. Compensation amounts that executives receive since the enactment of the tax provisions are increasing dramatically, not decreasing. Money for Nothing and the Stocks for Free: Taxing Executive Compensation
• · · Linkage between tax and financial accounts is common in Europe, although it takes varying forms. This does not result in complete book-tax conformity, however, and recent developments in accounting may be increasing divergence rather than reducing it. Despite the strong arguments in favour of conformity, there are also good reasons for some divergences, meaning that the most likely outcome in any system, whatever the starting point, is partial convergence Financial and Tax Accounting: Transparency and 'Truth'
• · · · The next bubble must be large enough to recover the losses from the housing bubble collapse. How bad will it be? Some rough calculations. Bubble of black tulips

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Very few people wish me happy name day these March peppered days - well by confirmation name I am addressed as Patrick while my real name is Jozef - on 17 March I must celebrate y confirmation name day and today is St Jozef's name - My sister Gitka always remembers to send me a message even if she is busy in Prague helping my other sister Eva to get organised;-) This year I did not let this important excuse to have a drink slip by unnoticed among friends - well == this week lots of things from the past keep flooding back...

Including the idea of coming to Sydney, which was transformative. You would become a different person here. Many refugees tend to agree... The moral admonitions of Cold War that loom so large in the European memory are invisible to Australians. With time and distance, evil fades... Imagine you fall on hard times of isolation in exile and (it's hard, but try) imagine further that you never want to be right if the government is wrong …

As long ago as 1628, Sir Edward Coke suggested that legal materials should not be published in English lest the unlearned by bare reading without right understanding might suck out errors, and trusting in their conceit, might endamage themselves, and sometimes fall into destruction. Worries about sucking, endamaging, and destruction persist to this day, though the conceit is arguably heavily concentrated on the other side of the issue.

People — and by “people” I mean “lawyers” — generally believe that there are two consumers of legal information. The first is a “law person” — a judge, lawyer, academic, or student — who makes sophisticated professional use of caselaw, statutes, regulations, treatises. The other is the “man in the street”, someone who is having an episodic, traumatic encounter with the legal system: getting crushed by debt, getting divorced, getting arrested. This leads to a misconception: the idea that both the literature and the audience for it are sharply bifurcated. On the one hand, there is “legal information”, a specialist literature that the man in the street doesn’t want and couldn’t understand in any case. On the other, there is what I suppose one might call “advice to the law-lorn”, simply-written, presented in bite-size chunks via newspaper or television, and providing orientation for those participating in one of the episodes mentioned earlier, or perhaps trying to solve a consumer-protection problem.

He was no lover of the common law, which Blackstone put on a pedestal. On the contrary, he described the common law as a place of “dark Chaos”. He advocated substitution of the codification of law and its enactment in statutes passed by an elected Parliament which would take the place of the step by step accretion of common law principle, performed by analogous reasoning by judges of infinite variety. For him, codes and statutory principles would “mark out the line of the subject’s conduct by visible directions instead of turning [the subject] loose into the wilds of perpetual conjecture”. He had great powers of invective, often directed against ‘Judge and Co’ (ie the Bench and the Bar), whom he saw as a ‘sinister interest’ profiting from the operation at great cost to the public of an unnecessarily complex and chaotic legal system in which it was often impossible for a litigant to discover in advance his legal rights. .

Those words are a paraphrase of HLA Hart, taken from an address given by Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby at the Law via the Internet ‘99 conference Kirby’s talk still rings true now, painfully close to a decade later:

Providing undigested legal material is not enough. It is essential that we provide citizens with the tools of thinking through problems, finding the applicable legal rules and deriving from legislation and case law any principle that must be obeyed….Throwing onto the plate of people, with fundamental misapprehensions about their legal institutions, a huge mass of undigested legal data will not truly make the law free and more accessible. It is the duty of schools and universities to help the next generation, including the overwhelming majority who are not lawyers, to appreciate the way in which law is written, may be found and is applied - at least in those matters which are of greatest concern to the ordinary person. Otherwise, Bentham and his followers will have been outfoxed once again by Judge & Co.

In the years since Kirby’s speech, we’ve seen enormous progress in making law available. Courts, legislatures, and agencies have all provided online warehouses full of their work product (and indeed the e-Government Act of 2002 requires Federal courts to do so). More recently, interest from open-access advocates among the technorati has resulted in admirable projects like, AltLaw, and an important and exciting venture in cross-subsidy for open access, Justia . Nameless for now

Can we change the heart of politics? Rocking the Rivers of Mateships
The Iemma Government has been rocked by explosive claims that convicted paedophile Milton Orkopoulos was tipped off by senior parliamentary officials that police were investigating him. Ms Sneddon said she was told on February 8 by Elaine Schofield, the NSW Parliament employee services manager, that the new MP for Swansea, Robert Coombs, had not wanted her on staff.
Earlier in the morning, Orkopoulos had joked with journalists about what time the jury was likely to reach its verdict. As more than a dozen journalists entered a sweepstake on the time of the verdict, Orkopoulos jokingly entered, choosing Friday at 11.30am. He won the pool, but when the time arrived, the smile had long vanished from his face. The jury found he had sex with two boys after supplying them with cannabis and heroin while they were minors after 1995.

Gillian Sneddon, who worked as Orkopoulos's electorate officer in the Hunter seat of Swansea, said she feared she would be killed after learning that Russell Grove, the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, had met with Orkopoulos to tell him about the investigation. Soon after that Russell Grove from Parliament, the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, sat down with Milton and had a meeting with him to tell him about it. ... The Herald revealed on Saturday that Ms Sneddon's employment as an electorate officer was terminated by the NSW Parliament on February 22, the day she first testified against Orkopoulos.
Mrs Sneddon accused a senior parliamentary official of holding a meeting with Orkopoulos shortly after she phoned an officer at Parliament and revealed she was helping police. The official is now under pressure to answer whether he informed the then speaker and Labor MP John Aquilina about the allegations.
Ms Sneddon, Orkopoulos's former electorate officer in the seat of Swansea, said she helped collect evidence for police and told a parliamentary official about the investigation on September 11, 2006.
"Soon after that, the official from Parliament sat down with Milton and had a meeting with him to tell him about it," she told Radio 2GB's Ray Hadley. "This was a covert police operation and by Milton knowing about it, that was in fact endangering my life." Ms Sneddon, made redundant the day she began giving evidence in the ex-MP's trial, said Parliament had effectively protected Orkopoulos.
She showed The Daily Telegraph a statement from Parliament's employee and corporate services manager Elaine Schofield which was supplied as part of her worker's compensation claim. In part the statement said: "(The official) and I had a meeting with Milton Orkopoulos arising out of Ms Sneddon's absence and workers' compensation claim. "During that meeting Mr Orkopoulos acknowledged he was aware that a police investigation was being conducted in relation to him.
"He indicated to us that they were old matters that had previously been dealt with by police and they were being rehashed. "He indicated that the allegations were promoted by his wife's former husband and . . . they related to interference with a young male."
Ms Sneddon said colleagues at the Swansea electorate office told Orkopoulos of her role in the police operation, photocopying documents.
And what did Parliament do - they had the locks changed to keep me out. Because I was assisting police, Milton obviously conspired with Parliament to have me locked out. So in effect what Parliament was doing . . . they were protecting the subject of the police inquiry, they were locking out the police witness.Orkopoulos is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last week on 28 child sex and drug charges.

Tip-off put my life in danger - staffer; [SMH 1; SMH 2; DT; ABCCourier
• · The internet’s instant reduplication of data, ideas, and media underpins all sectors in our economy. We need this gigantic copy machine... ; Children lie early, and often, for many reasons: to avoid punishment, bond with friends, gain a sense of control. And there’s another reason