Wry & Dry

France's new Première Dame. Lipstick on a pig. TT's tax plan.

This week...

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen" [1].

This week is one of those weeks....

Tsar Trump's One-Page Tax Plan

Someone in Tsar Trump's brains trust woke up last week.  And noticed that the 100-day-anniversary of Tsar Trump Tsardom was upcoming.

"Mr. President, your 100 day anniversary is upcoming.  We'd better announce something!"

"Yessiree, go ahead."

"Err, what?"

"Well, we've bombed Syria, I've met Mr Hu Flungdung from China, I've tweeted that we're building a wall; and we've employed most of my family.  What else is there to do?"

"Mr. President, I know that your plan to abolish Obamacare didn't get through a Congress that we control, but we might shoot higher.  And go for tax cuts.  They might fall for it."

"Great idea.  And remember the Trump Policy Announcement Policy: Make the numbers big and keep the details small."

"Yes, sir."

And so that's how it started.  And within two days, Tsar Trump's Tax Plan was announced.

And it met the Trump Policy Announcement Policy.  One page.  And a 15% company tax rate. [2]

If simplicity were the essence of victory, Tsar Trump's Tax Plan would be a World Cup winner.  

But, well, it's a tax plan for the largest economy in the world.  And to W&D's mind a one-page list of bullet points amounting to less than 250 words does seem, err, a little light on.  Just.

Ronald Reagan, with whom Tsar Trump is sometimes compared, at least respected They The People and The Congress with a three volume, 500+ page treatise, for his tax reform plan.

However, W&D loves the Trump Policy Announcement Policy and wishes it were in Australia, as it would prevent that neanderthalic Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson from asking, for the Nth time, where N is a large number, "Please explain."

France's new Première Dame

The media have focused their post-French-first-round-election-commentary on the two winners: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen (actually Marion, but she goes by Marine).

W&D sees this as misplaced attention.  And suggests that Readers should focus on a much more interesting outcome: La Première Dame présomptif.

The weird Americanism 'First Lady', like McDonalds, has gone global.  And any wife/ partner of any head of government is now known as The First Lady.  It's become a bit diluted, though.  Mrs W&D now calls herself The First Lady.

And the title was at once hijacked and lampooned by Australians when former PM Julia Gillard shipped her hairdresser-partner Tim Mathieson into The Lodge [3].  He became known known as 'The First Bloke'.  

W&D wonders what was he the first bloke to do?  But that's, err, another story.

The French also find the concept of une Première Dame difficult.  That's because so often there is not only a Première Dame, but also a Seconde Dame who wants to be Première Dame.  And sometimes neither.  Which is currently the case, and has been since 2014, when Valérie Trierweiler walked out on François Hollande. But this is about to change.

Not that W&D is saying that Marine Le Pen will not end up winning the Presidential election.  And she does have a partner (Lois Aliot), who logically would become le premier homme.   She previously had two husbands (not concurrently).  Which makes Lois for her, arguably, le troisième homme. (Such a great movie). 

Well, actually, she won't win.  M. Macron will romp home in the second round, as the other major candidates have now backed him.  W&D's curiosity about M. Macron is his wife, Brigitte Trogneux.  

At 64 years old, she is almost 25 years his senior.  W&D ponders that this will be a new beginning of French political style.  Trogneux and Macron met when she was his literature teacher at a private school in Amiens.  W&D will not speculate as to what literature they studied together, except that they developed a, well, close relationship. They eventually married and moved in together along with Trogneux's three children. 

Macron cartoon

W&D wonders if Macron's dalliance with his teacher will inspire more French students

French tabloids regularly salivate, in a Parisian manner, of course, over Trogneux' long legs.  She certainly looks more like a former model than a former teacher.  Although, in his many years W&D has seen many...oh, never mind.    

But it must be said, and W&D will say it, Trogneux is obviously a peroxide and tan devotee.  W&D has no knowledge of the workings of the former.  And the latter suggests subtle help from a bottle of Le Tan.  Of course.

W&D wishes her good luck with her projects as La Première Dame.

And wonders how the Americans will react when the partner of the President is LGBTIQ [4]?  Probably name the partner The First LGBTIQ Person.   

Budget I: lipstick on a pig?

Since that monumentally daft idea about using superannuation investments to fund residential housing purchases sailed into the Bermuda Triangle [5], the upcoming Federal Budget hasn't got much traction in the media.

Until now.

The extraordinarily boring Treasurer, Jimmy Morrison, has let it slip that the government will now distinguish 'good debt' from 'bad debt'.  

Good grief.  Debt is debt.  

Sure, there is merit in borrowing to fund infrastructure.  But equally surely, before borrowing, the first task is to ensure that the recurring costs of running Australia (salaries, welfare, etc) is met completely by recurring revenue.  Like any household, you do not borrow to pay for groceries, booze or power.  You borrow to invest in just three things: your home, car and investment portfolio.

Sadly, simple economics escaped the brain of the lamentable Wayne Swan, the former Treasurer, whose fiscal recklessness ensured that future generations pay for today's expenses.

The good/ bad debt moniker is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Budget II: just a financial statement

W&D hopes that the budget itself will be ignored for what it really is: a series of boring financial statements.

Unlikely.

The Government will dress it up to justify its position as, well the government.

The Opposition will seize it as an opportunity to blame every possible future evil on the Prime Minister and Treasurer.

The Media will see it solely in terms of Winners and Losers.

And the usual suspects (John Hewson, Waleed Aly, etc) will be rounded up to give their musings dressed up as intelligent and relevant.

The good thing is that Tony Abbott knows zero about budgets or how to manage them.  

Turnbull budget cartoonCroesus Turnbull wants his own wall

And so will remain silent.  Or hopefully will have sailed into his own Bermuda Triangle.

W&D will happily miss the whole show: and be welcoming client Readers at Eat Street, Melbourne's premier food and wine fest.

Weirdly...

Air New Zealand was this week named Australia's most trusted company.  How does that work?

Air New Zealand cartoonThe Kiwi carrier beat another Aussie icon, Mazda, into second place.  In fact of the top 10 places, only five (JB Hi-Fi, Qantas, BlueScope Steel and Australian Super) are Australian.

Best of the big, ugly banks was ANZ at number 35, just 17 places ahead of the Australian Tax Office.  Which suggests more than a little work needs to be done by institutions we are supposed to trust.   News Corp brings up the rear.

Briefly...

UK government borrowing has dropped to its lowest level since the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, official figures revealed this week.  The annual shortfall in the public finances stands at £52 billion, down by £20 billion in the past year, according to the Office for National Statistics. At 2.6%, the deficit is the smallest as a share of GDP for nine years.  The UK had its own Wayne Swan in the figure of former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the equally lamentable Gordon Brown.  And is only now crawling back into fiscal prudence.    Australia's budget deficit is about 2.5% of GDP.

Australia's inflation rate rose to 2.1% in the year to end March.  To the joy of some economists.

Italians just don't get it.  Two weeks after an Italian judge banned Uber from operation in Italy (after massive protests from local taxi-drivers), flag carrier Alitalia will commence insolvency proceedings after its workers rejected its latest rescue plan.  Gurgle, gurgle. 

Outcry in the UK.  The new polymer £5 note has an image of Winston Churchill.  And his famous quote, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”  But the designers at the Bank of England removed both the quotation marks and the full stop.  To the outrage of many.  W&D concurs; this post-punctuation world is to be deplored.  

But W&D suggests that Churchill would not have been concerned by that.  He would have wanted to know why his image and quote were not on the largest denomination, the £50 note. 

Elsewhere

W&D notes that the UN Economic and Social Council has voted, by secret ballot, to place the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  

In case Readers are wondering, the commission aims at "empowering" women and ensuring their equality.  W&D recalls that, among other enlightened policies, Saudi Arabia bans women from opening a bank account without their husband's permission.

But there is always Miscellany to soothe your troubled mind.     

[1]  Lenin.

[2]  There are actually a number of other items, aside from cutting company tax to 15% from 35%, including:

  • collapsing seven income tax thresholds to three: 10%, 25% and 35%
  • lowering CGT on long-term gains to 20%
  • eliminating most personal tax deductions, except for mortgage interest, charitable donations and retirement savings
  • abolishing death duties

[3]   The Lodge: the official Canberra residence of the Australian Prime Minister. 

[4]  LGBTIQ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer.

[5]  Not the name of one part of a piece of swimwear, but a loosely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  However, repeated research has shown that the number of ships and aircraft reported missing in the area has not been significantly greater, proportionally speaking, than in any other part of the ocean.