xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: April 2017

Friday, 28 April 2017

It is the poor who are still getting all the blame.

Recently, The West Australian newspaper published what it called the state’s Rich List.

How interesting it would be for The West to publish a list of our state's Highest Tax Payers. Quite possibly, several of those on the Rich List would be nowhere to be seen on the Highest Taxpayer List. For the sad truth is that many of our richest people and corporations pay little or no income tax whatsoever.

 The British Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said in the parliament recently that the Tories were “Strong against the weak and weak against the strong”. This has long been the case in Australia. Those on welfare are pursued relentlessly, while millionaires and very profitable corporations pay little or no tax whatsoever.

Centrelink has declared war on welfare recipients, in many cases sending them demands for payment of non existetent debts. On the other hand, very rich people and corporations  are helped by government tax avoidance regulations which favour Negative Gearing and turn a blind eye to those who put their treasure in tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

State Liberal MP, Ben Morton, wrote recently that the welfare safety net had become a comfortable hammock for many on welfare. The fact is that most people on welfare are on a knife’s edge, hanging out for the next payment to pay their bills and buy essential goods.

LNP politicians and sections of the media are very outspoken about the perceived rorts being perpetrated by those in receipt of Centrelink welfare payments. Unemployed people on the dole are invariably referred to as job snobs, dole bludgers and disability pension rorters.

The fact is that unemployment in Australia is an unwanted and unhappy state that most unemployed people have no control over. Most of those currently on the dole have worked before and will work again.

At present, there are many thousands more out of work than there are advertised job vacancies. It does not matter how hard you try, or how often you apply for a job, no one can overcome that mathematical imbalance between those seeking work and the lesser number of jobs available.

Similarly, Centrelink’s official figures do not support the charge that their clients are all job snobs, bludgers and cheats. Between 2006 and 2010, Centrelink conducted 4 000 000 reviews in each of those years, covering 60% of its clients. As a result of this extensive investigation into people’s personal circumstances there were, on average, 3192 people referred for prosecution. That represents 0.04% per year. I am sure today’s figures would be similar. Yes, there are some welfare rorters, but a very small percentage.

On the other hand, many rich people and highly profitable corporations have made an art form of rorting the income tax system. These “Fat Cats” have been aided and abetted by the Federal government, which has sacked thousands of Australian Tax Office workers, severely cut the ATO budget and closed whole departments in order to save money.

Tax Avoidance and the lesser and, perhaps the more honourable practice of Tax Minimisation, is a growth industry in Australia. Tax accountants charge huge sums to reduce their clients taxes to negligible proportions. Peter Martin, Economics Editor for The Age newspaper, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on May 13, 2014, said that ATO statistics showed that “75 ultra-high earning Australians paid NO INCOME TAX (My emphasis) at all. Each of them earned more than one million dollars from investments or wages and between them they accumulated $195 million, an average of $2.6 million each. But they paid no tax whatsoever. They paid no Medicare levy, no Medicare surcharge, even though 60 of them had private health insurance.”

Meanwhile, the LNP government, aided by Rupert Murdoch, who controls 70% of Australia’s media, continues to focus on those greedy, job snob welfare cheats. News Corp doesn't devote a lot of space to corporate fraud...unless it involves a trade union.

It was Kerry Packer who famously appeared before a Senate Committee and said that he paid his taxes but he was not going to pay one cent more in taxes than he had to and anybody who did was a fool. Of course, nobody but the taxman ever knew just how much tax Kerry Packer actually paid. We do know that he could afford very expensive tax accountants.

This attitude stands in direct contrast to that of Irving Berlin, who became extremely wealthy by writing some of the world's best loved and most popular songs. One day the famous composer's tax accountant started telling him how he could reduce his taxes.

"Stop! Stop!" exclaimed the great songwriter. "I do not want to reduce my taxes. I want to pay my taxes. I love this country."

What a shame that in Australia we have very rich people who are quite happy to be listed on The Rich List, while nobody knows who is on the Highest Tax Payer List.

Irving Berlin saw paying your taxes as a duty and an honour. I think we should know and salute those Australians who do make big personal tax contributions to our nation.

After all, when the footy match finishes, the commentators do not wax lyrical about the players who were paid the most, they wax lyrical about the players who made the most effective contribution to the team.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

When they say they are there to help, it is just Apple sauce.

Last Saturday morning my lovely wife, Lesley, woke to find that her iPhone had been locked. On the screen a message said. “Activation Required. This phone needs to be activated. Please enter your Apple ID and password.”

Well, Lesley was quite surprised. She had purchased the phone from a Telstra shop in April 2014, and had been very actively using it for three years. She could not understand why Apple was now asking for the phone to be activated when it had been well and truly activated for thirty-six months.
When the iPhone was purchased in 2014, eldest daughter, Jane, configured it with Apple and downloaded several apps. Jane kept a record of the Apple ID and passwords  that she used to set the iPhone up.

Unfortunately, when the Apple ID and password were entered on to the iPhone they were rejected. Apple said, “Either you Apple ID or Password are incorrect.”

Lesley tried a few variations of the Apple ID and password”. A few capital letters or a dot between first and last names, but nothing worked. Apple continued to say, “Either you Apple ID or password are incorrect”.

Lesley decided to take the phone to the Whitfords Telstra Shop where she had purchased it. The helpful Telstra staff said they could not fix the problem because it was Apple who had all the ID and password details. They suggested Lesley phone the Apple Support Line.

She did. After forty minutes of conversation the person on the Apple Help Line said he could not help and suggested Lesley visit the Apple Store in Perth.

Lesley phoned the Apple Store and made an appointment for 1-00pm that afternoon.  We caught a train in to Perth, walked to the Apple Store in Hay Street and said we were ready for some help.

“We need proof of purchase before we can help with this phone,” said the very polite Apple technician. Well, that seemed reasonable. The happy and helpful Apple technician even used his iPad to show us a map where the nearest Telstra Shop was located further along Hay Street. Off we trotted.
In the Telstra Shop a very affable young man behind the Reception Desk said he would certainly try to retrieve our iPhone invoice from April 2014. After a minute, he looked up from his computer screen and said that unfortunately his records only went back to August of 2016.

Noticing our crestfallen looks he said, “Look, ring this number at Telstra Billing. They will help you.” Lesley said she could not ring anyone because Apple had locked her phone.

“You are quite welcome to use any of our phones, “said the affable young man, pointing to a whole raft of phones and computers along the opposite wall. 

Lesley dialled Telstra Billing and spent five minutes telling someone of her blocked iPhone and her need for a proof of purchase invoice from April 2014. After a few more minutes of discussion, Lesley was put on hold and then handballed to another Telstra Billing operative. She retold her story again. There was more discussion. Then she was handballed to another Telstra Billing operative. She retold her story once again. When that Telstra person started asking if Lesley was having trouble paying her Telstra bills, she knew she had been handballed too far and decided to hang up before she was  put on hold once more and transferred to the lady who makes the tea at Telstra Billing.

We walked over to the affable young man at Reception and told him we had decided to go back to the Whitfords Telstra Shop to see if we could get a proof of purchase invoice. We thanked him for his help and the use of the phone. He beamed and said,” No problem at all. I am always here if you need any help.”

By this time, we were getting the strong impression that the very bright young things that worked as support staff at Apple and Telstra were very friendly and charming but they were like politicians on the campaign trail. They smiled and gave enthusiastic responses to our questions. But that is all they were, responses. We did not want responses. We wanted answers and solutions.

So, we caught the train back to Edgewater station and then drove to Whitfords Telstra Shop. Here we spoke with the assistant manager, a relatively old man of probably 25 or 26. Unfortunately, he could retrieve any invoices from 2014 but he wrote a letter on official Telstra letterhead saying that we were the lawful owners of the iPhone in Lesley’s possession and put in some related numbers to identify the iPhone.

Home we went and quickly phoned the Apple Store to make an appointment for 10-00am on Monday. We were home and hosed. We had the proof of purchase and Apple would quickly resolve our problems.

Well, not exactly. We fronted up at the Apple Store sat 10-00am and showed the official Meeter and Greeter our proof of purchase and driver’s license. Everything was in order. We were not a latter day, ancient and decrepit, Bonny and Clyde team on a mobile phone pinching spree. After a while a young lady came and said that she would be only too happy reset our phone.

“Reset?” asked Lesley. “Does that mean I will lose all of my data, my texts, my photos, my contacts list.”

“Yes, “said the bright young thing. “We will re-reset your phone to the factory settings.”

“But I do not want that, “exclaimed Lesley. “Look, Apple has blocked my phone. Apple knows what my ID and password are. If you forget your bank User Name or Password, but can prove  you are the account holder, then you get a chance to either retrieve or reset your User Name and password. Surely Apple can do that.”

Clearly the bright and charming young lady did not think so.  It was obviously it was beyond her level of expertise. She excused herself and said, “I will need to speak to my manager.” She walked away and spoke with several other staff before returning with a slightly older lady, maybe 30 years of age, with a North American accent.

The Apple Manager smilingly repeated what the bright young lady had told us. They could only return the phone to factory settings and no data would be retained.

Lesley and I both again pointed out that in all other organisation, when you lose or forget your User Name and Password there were opportunities to reset that access information.
The Manager aid we caould always ring Apple Support.
"We did that yesterday," exclaimed Lesley.

"What did they say," said the Manager, seeing a ray of sunshine.
"They said to bring it to the Apple Shop."

“Look,” said Lesley. “Apple knows my ID and password. Every time I type something in it says it is not correct. Obviously, Apple knows what is correct. All you have to do is retrieve it. It cannot be that hard?”

“We do not have that information here,” was the cold response. The smile had faded from the North American lady’s face. She was still responding politely, but she would not, or she could not, provide the solution we wanted.

“What do you mean you do not have the information here? You are Apple. You have all the information on iCloud or on a database somewhere. You can access it by computer or iPad. It should be easy. Banks and other organisations can do it. Why can’t Apple?”

“Privacy reasons,” said the now quite stern jawed North American who was there to help.

“Privacy? What privacy? It is our phone. It was working perfectly and Apple has destroyed it. Made it inoperable. It is not about privacy, it is about Duty of Care to your customers.”

Well, if there had been a judge and jury sitting at our table we would have won in a canter. But there wasn’t. There was just our now very controlled and determined looking Apple helper, who told us our only options were to restore the phone to factory settings or hang on to a blocked and useless telephone.

So, after an hour and half of Apple non-help, Lesley decided a working phone was better than no phone at all. Fifteen minutes later we left the Apple Store with a working, but pristine, mobile phone.

Although Lesley has her phone back and working, she is not happy with the unhelpful Apple Company for giving her a weekend of stress and trauma. Be advised, if you are ever in Lesley’s company and she says something to you that requires an affable response, please, say "No problems” or “She'll be right.”

Under no circumstances say, “She’s apples!”