The Welfare State in Europe

The “Welfare State” refers to the set of interventions organised by the state that are targeted for guaranteeing the provision of a least amount of expert services to the population by a method of social safety.

The beginnings of this particular method of social safety may be traced back again to the conclusion of the 19th century in the Germany of Chancellor Bismarck. Nevertheless, this program just became generalized in Europe following World War II.

The Welfare State is based on 4 primary pillars:

1. Compulsory as well as free main training and hugely subsidized training at greater levels.

2. At first common and free health care which in several places of Europe has been restricted to particular collectives, along with other people having to add to its cost.

3. Social security, and essentially pensions, which are financed by the payments made by employees through their working lives, though also insurance systems which deal with a variety of situations that are different (orphans, sickness, widows, etc.).

4. Community services, including all the various kinds of aid destined to go over the requirements of specific less favored collectives, with certain focus on care for dependents.

A distinction has usually been made between 3 diverse kinds of Welfare States in Europe (Social Democracy, Liberal and conservative). Nevertheless, the demise of the communist experiment as well as the procedure of the integration of the welfare state to the market economy have produced a series of new kinds of welfare states in Eastern and central Europe, which continue to be in the procedure for definition.

Down below we detail the various versions and their primary characteristics:

– The Social Democratic/Nordic Model. Main characteristics: taxes that are High, high amount of income redistribution, high amount of involvement of females of the labor sector, high standard of citizens and living with a significant level of confidence in their public telephone system (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland).

– Conservative/Corporatist Model. Within this group there’s a tiny subgroup created by the nations of the South of Europe, and they write about particular normal traits, though these are not completely essential for them to be looked at as an unbiased team. Main characteristics: Reduced amount of participation of females of the labor sector, dependency on social efforts rather than on taxes, reasonable redistribution of higher levels and income of unemployment, particularly in the nations of the South of Europe. (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Portugal) and Spain

– Anglo-Saxon/Liberal Model. Main characteristics: Reduced amount of complete state shelling out, high amount of low level and inequality of expenditure on social protection. (Switzerland, the United Kingdom as well as Ireland)

Models still in the stage of characterization in Eastern and central Europe.

– Type of the Former USSR. Main characteristics: Like the careful model with respect to complete state spending. The best disparities lie in the quality of level and life of confidence in the public telephone system (Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russian federation and also the Ukraine).

-Type of Post Communist Europe. The quality of life is actually higher than in the prior team as well as the method is much more egalitarian. On the flip side, they present far more reasonable levels of economic development as well as inflation than in the countries connected with the prior model. (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland).

Welfare State types of a procedure of growth. This pertains to destinations which continue to be in the procedure of maturing the welfare states in Europe. The programs of state aid as well as signs of quality of life are actually under those in the earlier mentioned organizations. The high levels of low life quality and higher infant mortality rates mirror the tough social situations present in these countries. (Georgia, Moldavia and Rumania).


Maine State Income Taxes – Get To Know & Make The Difference!

Taxes are an inevitable fact of life. Where ever you may reside paying taxes is indispensable for each and every earning individual! This justifies clearly that most of the individuals do not mind paying taxes of any sort! After all it’s us who get the benefits of these taxes in return in form of the infrastructures and civic amenities in the country!

Especially, Maine state income taxes seem the easiest of all!

Many a times when people migrate to the Maine, the state income taxes seem to be lost. You often stop worrying about them. To be precisely honest, almost all of us forget about the taxes all round the year and click on to them as emergencies close to the due dates!

Here are a few important factors determining and defining the Maine state income taxes:

1. Due date

Due Date – that’s an interesting and real alarming term. As paying taxes is indispensable until & unless you are unemployed, people often miss out the due date! And to avoid the fines it is almost unquestionable to file the taxes before the due date.

Well, this year you won’t miss it – mark it on the calendar in your room right away – for Maine state income taxes the due date is April 15.

2. What is your bracket?

Knowing your bracket is quite essential to identify as to what sort of income tax payee are you?

In order to know your bracket you primarily need to evaluate the amount of taxes you need to pay. Main state income taxes highly depend on these brackets.

The Maine state income taxes are divided into 4 key brackets.

Another factor defining these brackets is your marital status – that is, it is different for those who are single and those who are married.

As per your income levels, the brackets define the percentage of taxes that you need to file.

i. For the singles, the 4 brackets are as follows:

– 2% for first $ 4,450 income.

– 4.5% for income between $ 4,451 – $ 9,100.

– 7% for income between $ 9,101 – $ 18,250.

– 8.5% for income $ 18,251 and above.

ii. For married couples the 4 brackets are as follows:

– 2% for the first $ 9,150 income.

– 4.5% for income between $ 9,151 – $ 18,250.

– 7% for income between $ 18,251 – $ 36,550.

– 8% for income $ 36,551 and above.

3. Understand the forms you need to fill in.

Filing the taxes of course requires filling the forms. There are forms specific for all sorts of taxes. The best way of understanding the forms and knowing which one you ought to fill in is approaching the professionals. They would not only guide you the right way of filling the forms, but also help you smoothly go through the process.

Those planning an economical fining of taxes and hence doing it themselves, read through the following tips:

i. 1040-ME

1014-ME is the most common form you would be required to fill in. It is quite a long a detailed form.

ii. 1040S-ME

1040S-ME is almost a shorter version of 1014-ME.

iii. Determinants for the form

What you do all round the year to gain income determines the sort of form you would need to fill in. Those who are self employed need to fill in various other forms.

Hence, moving to Maine, you have nothing to worry about in the taxes.

State income tax system is quite similar to its Maine counterpart, except for the amounts!


Guide to Investing Out of State for Commercial Real Estate Investors in Los Angeles, California

Isn’t real estate supposedly one of the best categories of investment classes in the world? People always need a place to live right? Then why does it seem almost impossible to invest in real estate in California, which is known next to New York and Florida, as one of the top places in the world to invest in real estate, unless you have a few million dollars? It is because they are densely populated and in the case of Los Angeles have already risen dramatically not only in the last six years by 40% but have quadrupled, 400%, over the last 30 years. (S&P Index LA) Those are great returns for an asset that is considered to be safe and moderately growing. So what should a person do nowadays if they live and grew up in Los Angeles, and want to invest in real estate but don’t have a million dollars to invest? The solution is simple, invest out of state!

A lot of people think it is hard to invest in a state such as Texas. You have to manage the property, collect rent, and make the right investment decisions for the long term in a state that at this point in time you are only somewhat familiar with, right? Well allow me to explain to you why it is great for someone to think otherwise, and how a great agent can acquire property for you in another state in a deal which the tenants, the ones using the property space, are managing the property for you and even paying your property taxes! Not only that, but these are institutional companies who guarantee you the money you are promised for periods of up to 10-15+ years, per contract. This is only the beginning of me explaining how investing outside of your comfort zone with the proper advice can benefit you and your family.

How about the safety of these investments? I don’t want to lose my hard earned dollars. Neither do you. So why would you invest in anything outside of the Los Angeles, or the California region? A region that has proven itself for decades and showing promising signs of growth in certain areas. These are definitely valid points in the eyes of an avid investor, but maybe it’s time to reconsider. I already mentioned that property prices in Los Angeles are expensive, that being one of the main reasons to invest elsewhere.

Haven’t you noticed a lot of people who have been living in California are moving to the surrounding states where it is a lot cheaper to live and in places where new and old business industries are beginning to thrive? I personally know a few people who have moved away. Texas alone has added over 5 million people to its population in the last thirteen years according to Texas Department of State Health Services, and it is still growing. With that in mind, doesn’t it seem like a great deal to acquire a commercial property in a state where you can buy commercial real estate for around $150,000-$300,000 down? You couldn’t dream of that in Los Angeles unless you wanted to buy an old run down building.

Are you starting to understand how easy it can be to invest outside of your state, and why it is more lucrative? If you do, that’s great, if not here is another way to understand it in a situational scenario with numerical figures.

My friend Jack has $500,000 right now that he wants to invest.

This is what would happen if Jack invested in a Los Angeles Commercial Property from 2015-2020.

Let us say Jack doesn’t take out a Loan and buys a Fee Simple Commercial Estate.

$500,000 x 4% Interest Yearly = $20,000 Income / Year (Before Taxes) x 5 years = $100,000

Over this period of time the value of the property goes to $600,000 by 2020, and Jack sells his property to Jenner. That makes for a profit of $200,000 before Capital Gains, and Income Taxes.

Now, let us say Jack went outside his comfort zone and decided to get a property in Texas.

$500,000 x 8% = 40,000 Income / Year (Before Taxes) x 5 Years = $200,000

Over this period of time the value of the property goes up to $750,000 and Jack now shows Jenner how much easier it was to invest out of state because of the structure of this deal. He told Jenner that since Starbucks was managing his property and paying him on time without question every month, this made it much easier for him as an investment. Now, Jenner wants to buy this investment off Jack, because he sees the benefit and Starbucks wants to sign again for an additional 10 years with a rent increase!

Jack just made another $250,000, on the increase of the value of the property.

In total, Jack has now accumulated $450,000 before taxes over the last 5 years investing in Texas. Get it?! Do you understand the benefits and the financial rewards? Not to say you cannot have these structured deals in Los Angeles, but remember they offer half as much interest in a market that has already gone up 40% in the last six years.

Jack has made $450,000 investing in Texas vs. $200,000 investing in California with the same amount of money. That’s an extra 125% increase in profit, which will make you an even astonishingly larger amount of money on your next big investment!


Community Facilities Districts Info for State of California


Proposition 13, which was enacted in California in 1978, imposed fiscal constraints on local governments by limiting the amount of tax on property. Before the passage of Proposition 13, local governments issued long term general obligation bonds to fund public improvements required to serve new development projects. These general obligation bonds were repaid through the levy of general property taxes on all residents living within the jurisdictional boundary of the local government. Just prior to the passage of Propostion 13 property tax rates in California were as high as three percent (3%) of the fair market value of the property. Proposition 13 effectively prevented local government from increasing general property taxes within the jurisdiction of the local government to fund new public improvements that ultimately served only new developing areas that comprised a small portion of the local government jurisdictional boundary. Essentially, Propostion 13 now requires new development to pay for its own public improvements directly. Today, a Land Development Project is expected to pay for schools, roads, fire stations and numerous public improvements that are needed to serve the ultimate users of the project.

The Mello Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 was enacted by the California legislature in 1982 to allow local governments to form a Community Facilities District with the power to levy Special Taxes within the boundary of the Community Facilities District. A Community Facilities District assists both local governments and developers in dealing with the increased burdens associated with the financing of public improvements since the enactment of Proposition 13. In a nutshell, a Community Facilities District can issue long term tax exempt bonds to fund public improvements, which are repaid through the levy of special taxes collected on the property tax bills of property owners residing within the boundary of the Community Facilities District. The use of tax exempt bond financing by a Community Facilities District to pay for public improvements results in borrowing costs that are lower than traditional forms of financing used by the developer. These lower financing costs of a Community Facilities District benefit all parties involved in the Real Estate Transaction including the ultimate property users.


A Community Facilities District may finance the purchase, construction, expansion, improvement, or rehabilitation of any real or other tangible property with an estimated useful life of five years or longer or may finance planning and design work that is directly related to the purchase, construction , expansion, or rehabilitation of any real or tangible property. For example, a community facilities district may finance facilities, including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) Local park, recreation, parkway, and open-space facilities.

(b) Elementary and secondary school-sites and structures provided that facilities meet the building area and cost standards established by the State Allocation Board.

(c) Libraries.

(d) Child care facilities.

(e) The Community Facilities District may also finance the construction or under-grounding of water transmission and distribution facilities, natural gas pipeline facilities, telephone lines, facilities for the transmission and distribution of electrical energy, and cable television lines to provide access to those services to customers who do not have access to those services to customers who do not have access to those services or to mitigate existing visual blight.

(f) The Community Facilities District may also finance the acquisition, improvement, rehabilitation, or maintenance of any real or other tangible property, whether privately or publicly owned, for flood and storm protection services, including, but not limited to, storm drainage and treatment systems and sandstorm protection systems.

(h) Any other governmental facilities that the legislative body creating the community facilities is authorized by law to contribute revenue to, or construct, own, or operate.

(i) (1) A Community Facilities District may also pay for the following:

(A) Work deemed necessary to bring buildings or real property, including privately owned buildings or real property, into compliance with seismic safety standards or regulations.

(B) In addition, within any county or area designated by the President of the United Sates or by the Governor as a disaster area or for which the Governor has proclaimed the existence of a state of emergency because of earthquake damage, a district may also pay for any work deemed necessary to repair any damage to real property directly or indirectly caused by the occurrence of an earthquake cited in the President's or the Governor's designation or proclamation, or by aftershocks associated with the occurrence of an earthquake, including work to reconstruct, repair, shore up, or replace any building damaged or reconstruct, repair, shore up, or replace any building damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, and specifically including, but not limited to, work on any building damaged or destroyed in the Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred on October 17, 1989, or by its aftershocks.

(2) Work on privately owned property, including reconstruction or replacement of privately owned buildings pursuant to sub-paragraph (B) of paragraph (1), may only be financed by a tax levy if all of the votes cast on the question of levying the tax, vote in favor of levying the tax,

or with prior written consent to the tax of the owners of all property that may be subject to the tax, in that case the prior written consent shall be deemed to constitute a vote in favor of the tax and any associated bond issue.

(j) A Community Facilities District may also pay for the following:

(1) Work deemed necessary to repair and abate damage caused to privately owned buildings and structures by soil deterioration.

(2) Work on privately owned buildings and structures pursuant this subdivision, including reconstruction, repair, and abatement of damage caused by soil deterioration, may only be financed by tax levy if all of the votes cast on question of levying the tax vote in favor of levying the tax.

(k) A Community Facilities District may also finance the acquisition, improvement, rehabilitation, or maintenance of any real or other tangible property, rehabilitation, or maintenance of any real or other tangible property, whether privately or publicly owned, for the purposes of removal or remedial action for the cleanup of any hazardous substance released or threatened to be released into the environment.

What services can be funded by a Community Facilities District?

A Community Facilities District may also be established to finance any one or more of the following types of services within an area:

(a) Police protection services, including, but not limited to, criminal justice services. However, criminal justice services shall be limited to providing services for jails, detention, facilities, and juvenile halls.

(b) Fire protection and suppression services, and ambulance and paramedic services.

(c) Recreation program services, library services, maintenance services for elementary and secondary school-sites and structures, and the maintenance of museums and cultural facilities.

(d) Maintenance and lighting of parks, parkways, streets, roads, and open space.

(e) Flood and storm protection services, including, but not limited to, the operation and maintenance of storm drainage systems, plowing and removal of snow, and sandstorm protection systems.

(f) Services with respect to removal or remedial action for the cleanup of any hazardous substance released or threatened to be released into the environment.


Enjoy Peaceful State Of Mind With an Appropriate Insurance Cover

Life is beautiful and happening only when one enjoys perfect peace of mind. A general insurance secures a person against number of risks and provides adequate security for the unforeseen events of life. When one avails for a cover, he stands guarded against losses occurring in case of events like, fire, marine, motor, accident and other miscellaneous non-life insurance. There are numerous benefits associated with an insurance cover. Also, buying the best general insurance plan yields significant tax benefits to the customer.

Evolution of transforming technologies has made buying and renewing of policies really easy. A person interested in buying the best general insurance can conveniently make a purchase through internet. All the key players of the insurance industry have their respective web portals, where in is provided every information relating to different plans. Customers can read and understand the plans being offered and make a wise selection. Online facility bestows on the customer, the power to choose, and thus he is able to avail the best general insurance plan that perfectly fits in his budget.

An insurance seeker these days is not even required to go to a company’s office or bank, to make a payment for the policy. Rather they can do the same by using the advanced money tools. Net banking and credit cards have made the task a cake walk for the customers. Government has laid down strict guidelines for all the players in the industry to follow highest security standards. The website portals of companies have perfect security arrangements and are SSL certified. Thus your investment stays secure and yields you maximum benefits in hour of need.

Companies now days issue digitally signed insurance policies to the customers, opting to buy the best general insurance plan online. A customer is thus able to access the policy papers at will from his desktop, laptop and even mobile phones. In case of urgent requirement of policy papers a printout would do the job. The copy of the digitally signed insurance policy is considered as authentic and reliable as the original.

Life is unpredictable and a lot of risks surround it. A person should always choose the best general insurance plan for himself and also suggest the same to people he loves. Spending in insurance is a positive and genuine move and also, this industry has enjoyed the same reputation, for centuries. The sector is growing at a rapid pace and competition is really stiff in the market. Everybody is trying to incorporate as many riders in their plans as possible to make their offers lucrative and appealing. While pursuing an online research regarding a plan, the customer should pen down the insurance quotes of various companies. This helps in perfect evaluation and analysis of policies and packages.

There has been noticed a sharp rise in the number of frauds and malpractices in the industry. An online research saves you from falling in a trap. It’s always preferable to buy insurance from a renowned and recognized player of the industry.


State Tax Free Online Filing – A Cooperative Effort

It is a cooperative effort between the IRS and state tax administration agencies to provide state tax free inline filing. This system is available for both state and federal tax returns and it is basically known as e-filing. This can be accessed through your home computer, and you can pretty much guarantee if you pay a tax professional he or she is using these free services.

Each state has their own tax requirements and at present there are 38 US states which allow their residents state tax free online filing. It is a simple process to find out what these states are by simply accessing the IRS main site and clicking on the appropriate link.

There are also certain income requirements which allow diligent tax payers to make use of e-filing, but 70% of the population of the US fits these profiles. Both federal and state taxes may be filed simultaneously, and what a big relief it is to get that all done and out of the way before the deadline.

Electronic filing places both state and federal tax returns in a separate packet, and they are submitted to the IRS, in a "Taxpayer Envelope". They confirm receipt of the envelope within 48 hours, and they also act as a "Post Office" for the particular state in which the taxpayer is resident.

This option is of huge benefit to the taxpayer as it means the tax return is 100% correct because the software eliminated any errors. It is processed far more efficiently and the taxes don't have to be sent to separate agencies, which always makes us nervous. Refunds are also processed much faster and this is paid back by direct deposit into the savings or checking account of the taxpayer.

For the environmentalists amongst you, it saves paper, and if 70% of the population of the US e-files, think about the paper savings, think how many trees can be saved and this should motivate you to find out more about state tax free online filing.

Wealth Building

Crossing State Lines With Your Estate Plan

Moving to a new home probably means making long lists of Things to Do. If you’re moving across state lines, be sure to add an Estate Plan Review high on the list.

Even though each state must honor legal documents made in other states, each state makes its own laws for the formalities and substance of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. This can lead to some confusing consequences. In other words, your old will or power of attorney may be a valid legal document but it may not be applied as you would think because local state law differs from your old home state’s laws.

To avoid costly and time consuming court proceedings about which state’s law will apply, here is a short checklist for your estate plan after a move to another state.

Medical Directives

State laws differ widely on health care powers of attorney, physician’s directives, and living wills. Hospitals and doctors are most familiar with the medical directive forms under their state’s laws. When presented with documents created in another state there may be delays while their lawyers review the unfamiliar documents. So that a healthcare provider will not have any difficulty recognizing the validity of your document, it’s best to convert to documents under the laws of your new home state.

Last Will and Testament

Each state has its own rules about how wills are established and interpreted. There are important variations that are technical and that only a qualified estate planning lawyer will identify. For example, these technicalities may include who can serve as an Executor or Trustee; spousal inheritance rules; definitions of key terms; “default rules” if something happens that is not covered by the terms of the will or trust; estate or inheritance taxes; payment of claims; compensation for fiduciaries; and much more. A little attention now may avoid problems when a court has to interpret your will later.

Living Trust

Like wills, each state has its own laws governing trusts. Those laws were mainly judge-made laws for centuries. Development of law by judicial decisions instead of statutes enacted by state legislatures can take a long time and often lags behind current trends and issues. Thus, the development of the Uniform Trust Code. This is not a real law; rather, a set of model laws written by legal scholars, practicing lawyers, and judges who team up to provide a guide for state legislatures as they modernize and streamline state laws. Each state is free to adopt its own version of the UTC.

If you have a Living Trust, the nuances of state laws on trusts — whether judge-made laws or variations of the Uniform Trust Code — can significantly affect your inheritance plan. A review of your old trust by a qualified estate planning lawyer can identify appropriate amendments to allow full benefits under the new home state’s laws.

Property Power of Attorney

States are increasingly changing statutes that govern financial and legal powers of attorney. Your old document should compared to your new state’s laws to make sure there are no clashes and all relevant and available powers are included.


IRA’s are governed by federal law which applies the same to residents of all states. So why are they on this list? Because some states require a spouse to sign off on beneficiary designations for IRA’s, so make sure your beneficiary designations comply under your new home state’s laws.

Finding a lawyer in your new state can be a challenge. A good place to find a qualified estate planning lawyer is the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, where you will find a listing of members across the U. S.


How Do Contract Mortgage Processors Comply With the New State Licensing Requirements?

There are thousands of mortgage processors acting on a contract basis in the United States. The SAFE Mortgage License Act that passed in July 2008 requires contract mortgage processors to be licensed by July 2010. How does the new law affect contract mortgage processors? Obtaining mortgage loan originator (MLO) licenses in multiple states can be very costly. What can a contract mortgage processor do to comply and not break the bank?

Let’s first look at the definition of a contract mortgage processor under the SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act. The Act defines a mortgage processor as an individual that gathers documents from borrowers and submits the documents to a lender, but does not take residential loan applications. The Act then goes on to state that a mortgage processor is exempt from mortgage loan originator licensing as long as they are a w-2 employee of just one mortgage company. Thus a mortgage processor that is 1099 and/or processes loans for more than one mortgage company must be licensed as a mortgage loan originator (MLO) and is considered a contract mortgage processor. If you are defined as a contract processor, then what are your options for obtaining a license in each state you process loans?

Option 1

You can choose to become a w-2 employee of just one mortgage company and process mortgage loans for only that one company. This is probably not the ideal situation for most contract mortgage processors, but it may be the only option for some. The cost of licensing can be expensive and a license is required in each state you process loans. Also, as we will discuss shortly, you may need to obtain a mortgage company license too. This is even more costly than obtaining just the mortgage loan originator license.

The down side to this option is obvious. You can’t continue to process mortgage loans for your other customers. Also, it may be hard to find a company that will hire you on a full-time w-2 basis. Most smaller companies just do not have the resources to maintain a full-time processor on staff.

Option 2

You can choose to obtain a mortgage loan originator (MLO) license in each state you want to process loans in. Then you can have your primary customer sponsor those mortgage loan originator licenses. To get a mortgage loan originator license, you will need to complete 20 hours of education, two tests, fingerprinting, credit check, and pay an application fee between $100 and $400 per state. Then you can have your primary customer sponsor your mortgage loan originator license. This will allow you to process loans for your primary customer on a 1099 contract basis. The problem is that if you want to have other customers, you would have to set up your contract between your sponsoring primary employer and the other customers. So when you want to get paid by your other customers, the other customers would have to pay your primary customer and then your primary customer could pay you. This obviously poses a huge problem for most contract processors since it is very unlikely you will find a primary customer that will be willing to sign processing contracts with your other customers. However, this is how the states are saying it must be done. Some states may be implementing this slightly differently, so I recommend contacting the state or a licensing service to determine how the state is interpreting these requirements.

Option 3

You can choose to obtain a mortgage company license and a mortgage loan originator (MLO) license in each state you want to process loans in. This is the ideal situation, because then you do not have to be limited to just one employer as in option 1 and you do not have to have a primary customer sponsor you and pay you for your other customers work as in option 2. However, this is the most costly option. It usually costs about $1,000 to $3,000 to apply for a mortgage company license per state. And some states have net worth requirements, experience requirements, and bonding requirements that can be difficult barriers to overcome.

If you are able to go this option, you will actually be able to avoid the mortgage loan originator licensing in many of the states by paying yourself as a w-2 employee of your contract processing company, but the costs will still be much higher. If you are thinking of going this way, you will want to get licensed only in states you plan on processing ten or more loans in each month. In fact, most people that go this route will benefit from having a few contract processors work with them to offset the costs.


There are really no good answers to this dilemma. In fact, this may be one of the worst problems facing the mortgage industry right now that most people are not even aware of. Plan for the business of contract processing to change dramatically starting August 2010. And make sure to be prepared to fall under one of these 3 options or you could be out of business.


Australian state Labor government spearheads anti-protest laws


Australian state Labor government spearheads anti-protest laws

Mike Head

30 October 2019

Despite protests and the exposure of its lies about “dangerous” demonstrations, Queensland’s state Labor government rushed new anti-protest laws through parliament last week. Demonstrators using proscribed “devices” can be jailed for up to two years and police have expanded powers to conduct personal and vehicle searches without judicial warrants.

By accelerating the legislation, the Labor Party has taken the lead in a wider drive by Labor and Liberal-National Coalition governments across the country to outlaw many forms of political protest amid growing discontent in Australia and worldwide, particularly over worsening social inequality and ecological dangers.

Backed by the Liberal National Party (LNP) opposition, the state parliament passed the Summary Offences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 last Thursday. Just two days earlier, more than 200 people rallied outside the Queensland parliament to denounce the legislation. The demonstrators included environmental activists, civil liberties representatives and construction workers.

A token parliamentary committee inquiry into the bill also had received more than 200 submissions, most voicing opposition to the attack on the democratic right to protest and the underlying right to political free speech.

The bill will see demonstrators jailed for allegedly trying to use “lock-on” devices to prevent police from dragging them away from protests. It also gives the police powers of search and seizure if they “reasonably suspect” that a person has “something that may be a dangerous attachment device” that could be used “to disrupt a relevant lawful activity.”

Introducing the bill in parliament, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk repeated the false claims that she and her ministers had made throughout the media for weeks to justify the measures. She insisted that the bill did not infringe on the right to protest but only targeted the use of “dangerous attachment devices” that “are reinforced with metal, wire or glass—fragments that can become projectiles—they can injure police, emergency services workers or members of our community.”

Palaszczuk and other Labor leaders had accused Extinction Rebellion and other environmental demonstrators of using deadly booby traps designed to maim or kill police and emergency services personnel. But they produced no evidence to substantiate their allegations, which protest groups strongly denied.

This exposure of the government’s lies did not halt the Labor Party’s determination to be in the forefront of imposing a wave of anti-protest laws. Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s federal Coalition government, backed by Labor, pushed through parliament a bill that could see people jailed for up to five years for using social media, emails or phone calls to promote, or even advertise, protests against agribusinesses. Morrison’s government is also working with state governments to impose harsher jail terms on demonstrators, adding to expanded anti-protest laws imposed over the past three years.

In Queensland, protesters obstructing traffic or resisting arrest already faced court-imposed fines up to $61,000. The Labor government has also introduced a bill setting penalties of up to one year in jail for people found guilty of trespassing on agricultural premises to protest against animal cruelty. In April, Palaszczuk’s government authorised police and biosecurity officers to issue on-the-spot fines of $652 to such demonstrators, on top of existing trespass penalties.

During last Thursday’s parliamentary session, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner boasted of Labor’s record. “Earlier this year, in my portfolio, we as a government amended the regulations under the Biosecurity Act to allow Queensland Police Service and biosecurity officers to immediately fine people who put on-farm biosecurity at risk. We acted, and acted quickly, and broadly industry was supportive of the quick response.”

Furner’s remarks underscore Labor’s anxiety to satisfy the demands of agribusiness and other sections of big business for the suppression of any political dissent that threatens corporate profits.

Clearly, the targets of these measures go beyond the recent Extinction Rebellion protests, which temporarily blocked traffic in the Queensland capital of Brisbane, as they did in other cities around the world. During last Thursday’s short parliamentary debate, references were made to the mass protests sweeping the globe against social inequality and attacks on working class conditions.

Education Minister Grace Grace admitted that the importance of protests had been “brought to the forefront of people’s mind” by “many around the world at the moment.” She said people “may or may not agree with the protests that are happening in Hong Kong, London, Santiago and Paris over various domestic and international issues.”

In their speeches, Labor ministers hypocritically professed to defend the right to protest, provided it was “lawful.” So did the leaders of the LNP, who supported the legislation, even as they criticised the government for not going further to outlaw “unlawful assembly” and set mandatory jail terms for people arrested more than once during protests.

The Queensland legislation has provoked outrage, including among those who still had illusions that Labor was a “lesser evil.” Palaszczuk insisted that her government was not reprising the notorious blanket anti-demonstration laws of the Bjelke-Petersen National Party state government of the 1980s. She even bragged of having joined the widespread protests against those laws.

Palaszczuk’s comments only point to the fact that Labor’s anti-democratic trajectory is part of a global shift. Governments around the world are increasingly turning to repressive and authoritarian methods of rule in the face of the resurgence of mass protests, from France to Puerto Rico, Haiti, Chile, Lebanon, Iraq, Ecuador, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Labor’s Summary Offences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill contains measures that can be used well beyond environmental or animal cruelty protests. The “dangerous devices” banned include “sleeping dragons”—concrete-filled pipes that lock protesters’ arms together—and “dragon’s dens”—steel drums filled with concrete. These devices make it difficult for police to remove protesters. Also specifically outlawed are “monopoles” and “tripods,” used to delay coal trains.

However, the provisions are vague enough to cover any equipment that “reasonably appears” to be designed to prevent a demonstrator from being removed and arrested. Likewise, the “relevant lawful activity” that must not be disrupted is defined in sweeping terms. This includes “transport infrastructure,” “entering or leaving a place of business” and “the ordinary operation of plant or equipment.”

In other words, these laws criminalise protests that allegedly disrupt business operations. They can be used more broadly to suppress opposition, including industrial action by workers, to the deepening assault by governments and the corporate elite on jobs, living standards and social conditions.

The laws attack fundamental democratic rights, including free speech, free movement and freedom to associate. They have nothing to do with protecting the public from “unsafe” protests. Rather they are intended to intimidate and quash the growing anger produced by the deteriorating social and environmental conditions.

The author also recommends:

Australian state Labor government’s lies about “protest violence” exposed
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Australian governments trial police-state measures against climate protesters
[ 15 October 2019 ]



Foreclosure Statistics for the State of Maryland

Across the country, there has generally been improvement in the level of foreclosures. Of course, this varies widely on a state by state basis. In fact, most people are surprised to learn which state has the highest foreclosure rate. Currently it is Maryland which has the highest foreclosure rate in the entire country, which would not be the average first guess.

Most people associate the highest foreclosure rates with states such as Florida and Nevada, or perhaps New Jersey. All three are in the top five, along with Delaware, but it’s Maryland that outpaces them all in the wrong direction.

All of the statistics here are from RealtyTrac, and reflect the latest available data for April 2016. According to these figures, the rate in Maryland is one in every 535 homes is in foreclosure. Nationally, the figure is one in every 1,212 homes, so Maryland’s rate is more than double the countrywide rate,.19% versus.08%.

As mentioned, Maryland is followed by Delaware, with one in every 579 homes, New Jersey, with one in every 662 homes, Nevada, with one in every 702 homes, and Florida, with one in every 727 homes.

Within Maryland, there’s of course a wide disparity in foreclosure rates for different cities and counties. The five highest county rates within the state are Baltimore City, with one in every 287 homes, Prince George’s County, with one in every 357 homes, Charles County, with one in every 395 homes, Washington County, with one in every 457 homes, and Calvert County, with one in every 459 homes.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County has only in every 1,359 homes in foreclosure. Not only is that less than half the rate of Maryland as a whole, but it’s also better than the national rate. Still, digging into the city statistics, there are specific towns within Montgomery County that have far worse foreclosure rates, such as Barnesville, with one in every 89 homes in foreclosure, or Garrett Park with one in every 324 homes. That same level in disparity will be seen in other counties as well.

For homeowners who are facing foreclosure, there are many different potential courses of action to take. One may be to file bankruptcy before the foreclosure auction is completed. In this case, it may be possible to stop the foreclosure, and even to keep the home. Be sure to consult with an experienced bankruptcy and foreclosure attorney in your local area who will be able to instruct you on what’s possible, and provide you with the assistance you need.