When a Little Mathematics Helps
Russell Degnan

I have been sitting on this article for almost a week, and yet it still riles me enough to write about it. While I am sure that the quality of journalism in Australia, if not world-wide, and the level of critical thinking being applied by people to issues, is no better or worse than in times gone by; sometimes it is so bad as to be despairing.

The word of the booksellers quoted was taken without any further analysis except for an example which, if anything, completely contradicts the entire piece. That is, the comparative difference between shipping - Amazon's disadvantage - and the GST - local bookseller's disadvantage - is $15.66 against $5.45. Entailing that only a third of the difference in prices is the GST, and not something else - whatever that may be.

For it to be the GST making it more expensive to buy in Australia than online the GST must be larger than the shipping cost. Assuming - incorrectly - that it is flat, the books must be more than $172.26. Or, almost up to the $250 mark when customs starts charging GST on imports.

Whatever it is making local booksellers uncompetitive, the GST is only part of the story, and not the major part. And yet the reporter missed this - potentially a real story - in favour of an open forum for uncompetitive business franchises. Lousy.

Sterner Matters 24th December, 2004 01:07:23   [#]