Is it easier for New Zealanders to fake their own deaths?

Wednesday, 8 January, 2014

A new year, a new start… by faking your death? Don’t get your hopes up though. Very few people succeed in starting a new life by ceasing to be one person, and assuming the identity of someone else that they’ve created.

Apparently though New Zealand citizens, who can reside legally in Australia for, I believe, indefinite periods of time, have an edge in this regard however, thanks to a combination of privacy laws, and the fact they – seemingly – don’t have to pay taxes here:

For Verzi, fake-dying professionally means having a new, hard-to-trace identity ready. “It seems like the US has half the privacy laws we have so it’s much harder to disappear there. Actually, the hardest people to track are New Zealanders because they come here [to Australia], and they don’t vote or pay taxes and then they go home. It really helps if you’re a Kiwi.”

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Cutting down the clutter in Earth orbit by imposing a debris tax

Wednesday, 16 October, 2013

If a tax on orbital debris, that is the dead satellites, burnt out rocket parts, and who knows what else, that is circulating above the Earth’s atmosphere, doesn’t make sense right now, it will after you see Gravity.

The study found that commercial satellite firms launch more satellites than is “socially desirable,” and they use launch technology that is more likely to create debris “because they only compare individual marginal benefits and costs of their technology choice and fail to take into account social benefits and costs.” That puts space debris squarely into the category of a “negative externality,” much like regular Earth-bound pollution, where the costs are unfairly borne by a third party – in this case just about everyone else on Earth.

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Saving the environment by increasing petrol taxes?

Wednesday, 13 August, 2008

Doubling the current US price of petrol, from $4 a gallon, to $8 by way of a tax, could bring about all sorts of benefits… if you can overlook the negatives first that is.

Cheap gas is unfair. Driving creates huge social costs in the form of traffic, health-damaging pollution and global warming that aren’t suffered solely by the person buying the gasoline. Governments usually set up idiotic systems to offset such social costs (emissions trading, ethanol subsidies, taco truck regulations) instead of forcing individuals to pay for their own mess by adding a tax to remedy the imbalance. That kind of tax – the most fair kind, really – is called a Pigovian tax, and its use is why gas costs $8 to $10 a gallon in Europe, where they have fewer road deaths even though they drive like complete idiots.

In Australia we already have a fairly hefty fuel excise (about 45 per cent), and there has been talk recently about reducing it by five to ten cents. Is drastically increasing the fuel excise in fact the way to go though?

Would the long term benefits be worth the short to medium term hardship while we adapted to being less dependent on our cars? Hmm.

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The cost of smoking

Thursday, 5 June, 2008

The price of a packet of cigarettes has recently increased in New York, as the result of a city imposed tax. This has prompted New York blogger Jason Kottke to compare the cost of smoking, on an hourly basis, with other enjoyments in New York.

Some smokers are understandably upset about the price but how does it compare to other enjoyments? If smoking a single cigarette takes five minutes and at $10 & 20 cigarettes per pack, smoking costs a smoker $6/hour.

Not to be encouraging any bad habits here, but the cost of lighting up does compare quite favourably with the other listed activities. I might have to try a Sydney version of Kottke’s exercise and see how the two cities compare.

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How to live forever

Wednesday, 9 January, 2008

How to live forever.

Soon there may only be but one certainty in life, taxes. The problem is though there would be no end to them as a result.

“IN THE long run,” as John Maynard Keynes observed, “we are all dead.” True. But can the short run be elongated in a way that makes the long run longer? And if so, how, and at what cost? People have dreamt of immortality since time immemorial. They have sought it since the first alchemist put an elixir of life on the same shopping list as a way to turn lead into gold. They have written about it in fiction, from Rider Haggard’s “She” to Frank Herbert’s “Dune”. And now, with the growth of biological knowledge that has marked the past few decades, a few researchers believe it might be within reach.

Apparently eating your greens helps.

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