Probably should have been a Tweet but I’m not on Twitter.
Probably should have been a Tweet but I’m not on Twitter.
We aren’t a fan of fallacious arguments round here, we prefer to start with a hypothesis and then observe empirical evidence before refining our views. Sometimes though, a fallacy is a good enough touchstone for a more robust investigation.
What’s the correct name for the fallacy of dismissing an argument because a large number of people who are almost always wrong about most things are upset by a particular argument? It’s not quite ad hominem, perhaps poisoning the well?
Regardless, this is of interest;
This Month’s Australian Prime Minister (c) has announced he will be following Trump’s lead and relocating the Australian Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.
It’s a highly political move, not least because there is a critical election currently underway in a constituency with a large Jewish population.
Why this political move surprises anyone is perhaps the great mystery. After all, as Thomas Sowell said;
No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2. Whatever is No. 3 is far behind.
The list of people apoplectic with rage about this announcement is instructive. The entire mainstream media, the government media, academia, celebrities and even bandana-wearing househusbands are united in their view that it is a bad thing.
The Sydney Morning Herald has no fewer than 5 different articles on the decision today. If nothing else, the decision has brought some positives to the lives of those journalists who are paid by the word;
Have you got that, readers; it’s a bad thing.
Out of curiosity, do we think there could be any room in a newspaper with the tagline, “Independent. Always” for just one article with a headline such as, “This was clumsy by the PM but of course the embassy should be in the country’s capital“?
Nah, didn’t think so.
Is Australia’s decision to relocate her embassy to Jerusalem a bad thing?
Let’s list the reasons offered by the critics;
1. It’s an obscenely politically move in an attempt to win an election.
Well yeah, duh. We refer you back to the Sowell quote; everything politicians do is political. Does that make it the wrong thing to do though?
2. It might upset Indonesia.
The correct response to this is to point out it is a decision by a sovereign nation with regards to its relationship to another sovereign nation. If a third sovereign nation feels it can offer an opinion on this, they should be prepared for similar advice and guidance to be offered on their domestic policies. Mind your own damn business, Indonesia, it’s not as if you are the moral beacon of the world.
3. We are not anti-Semitic, but we are against the state of Israel’s policies and actions with regards to the Palestinians.
Everything before the word “but” is always bullshit. The Palestinians keep electing groups who openly call for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. If you can draw moral equivalence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, you are simply not debating in good faith are you?
Scott Morrison is a politician, which means he is grubby, self-interested and venal. Sometimes, however, even the grubby, self-interested and venal will make a correct decision for incorrect reasons.
As we’ve shown previously, dire warnings of impending climate catastrophes rely on a lot of heavy lifting from the word “could”.
Here’s the latest example; beer could be more expensive in the future climate dystopia.
Don’t bother following the link to the article for any actual details or hard predictions of by how much or by when this price increase will be experienced. This is climate science, after all, the normal rules of the Scientific Method don’t apply.
We’d link to the academic study but it hasn’t been published yet.
Which illustrious ancient seat of academia is responsible for this auspicious and credible claim?
The University of East Anglia.
Now where have we heard of that institution before? Oh yes, Climategate.
If you are a British taxpayer, consider how you feel about paying money for a study grant that results in some vague claim about a future crisis in the beer brewing industry, and is motivated by a desire to get you to change your life and pay more tax for “green” issues.
In the meantime, let’s make some predictions of our own.
1. A pint of beer will cost about 10% more, at least, in 10 years time because of inflation. Did the East Anglians consider that?
2. Barley grows quicker in a CO2 rich atmosphere. Did they reference and factor any studies of relative rates of growth in their study?
3. If my mother had wheels, she could be a trolley.
We’ll revisit this once the actual study is published. Our suspicion is it is a bullshit paper written purely to spark headlines like these.
Lastly, I wonder if there’s a clue to the study’s unbiased motivation?
What we’re saying is that … if people still want to have a pint of beer while they watch football, we have to do something about climate change.
I’d translate that into even more frank and honest English but I suspect the message is already hiding there in plain sight.
Somebody has been reading George Orwell;
So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.
Mischievous readers in Australia could have some fun, if they were that way inclined.
Shebah is a ride share service like Uber and Ola. It differs in one significant way, however; the drivers and passengers are female.
“Fine“, we might say, “it’s perfectly reasonable for female passengers and drivers to want this additional safety measure. Men can call an Uber“.
If that was the policy, there’d be no opportunity for fun and this blog post wouldn’t need to be written.
Of course, we are living on Planet Insanity so the Shebah folks have tied themselves into logical knots by trying to be more woke than you and I.
Sit back and enjoy our little ride into madness courtesy of the FAQ section of their website (additional questions in bold are ours);
Who can drive or ride with the service?
Ok, only women or children, including boys under 18.
So, the teenage Said Imasi would have been ok to ride on his own then? Here’s a picture of him when he was “fourteen” (he’s the fully grown man on the right);
What about trans people?
Great, so in your “intersectionally feminist” opinion, “Hannah” Mouncey is ok to drive and ride;
As is the serial rapist, “Karen” White.
Discrimination is definitely not a thing you condone?
When you say you don’t discriminate, are there any limits?
That’s quite a complex set of restrictions and exceptions. It feels like it could be better illustrated with a decision tree/flow chart diagram along the lines of, “do you have a penis but you are accompanied by a woman and very small child?”
Speaking of discrimination, how do you prevent a man or a “woman” with a penis from registering as a driver? What checks are there?
You’ll need to upload photos of all of the following – legally, they must be current so make sure they’re always up to date!
Your gorgeous face
Your car: front, back and side view
The front of your drivers licence
The back of your drivers licence (with current home address if changed)
Your car registration
A roadworthy certificate that is less than 12 months old
Current rideshare insurance for the car you’ll be driving*
A Passenger Transport Licence Code from Services NSW (formerly the Department of Roads and Maritime Services)
A Working With Children Check valid for paid work
Not much in that list to prevent someone like “Hannah” Mouncey from registering to drive then. “Karen” White might struggle with the Working With Children Check, of course.
Male Australians wishing to have some fun might register for the Shebah service, wear a wig and hail a cab.
They could then claim discrimination if their custom is refused on the grounds of their gender.
Why? Well, if you say you’re a woman, you’re a woman, according to Shebah. It’s right there in their policies and terms of service. If you took Shebah to the various state anti-discrimination ombudsperson, a strong case could be made that the logical inconsistencies of their policy negate any claim of a valid exception to the anti-discrimination laws.
For the sake of clarity, let’s list the inconsistencies;
1. We don’t discriminate. However…. no male drivers, no male passengers under 13, or over 18 unless accompanied by a woman and a baby.
2. We are a female service for females. However…. see (1) regarding male passengers. Also, if a man says he’s a woman we accept him/her at his/her word.
3. We take our drivers’ safety very seriously. However…. see (2), we aren’t going to perform a Crocodile Dundee genital cup to check whether the trans driver still has his/her boy’s bits or not.
Hands up who’s prepared to be the test case for Sanity vs. Shebah 2018?
We just couldn’t leave this subject alone….
When one has over a million followers on
Creepbook for Business LinkedIn, success comes naturally, opportunities come to you without the requirement to seek them out.
Brigette Hyacinth is in this enviable position; a thought leader to her disciples, a successful author and sought-after public speaker.
Tickets can be purchased here. Breakfast and a show for $30? Great value!
There can’t be much margin to be made on those tickets, assuming everyone gets a juice, coffee and croissant.
That’s ok, she’s probably hired a massive hall so the money will be made on volume of sales rather than high margins. Madison Square Gardens here we come!
Oh, that’s curious; the Fitzpatrick Hotel looks lovely but, at just 91 rooms, it’s little more than a boutique hotel. In fact, they only advertise a couple of boardrooms for functions, so one might presume that this breakfast event is going to be hosted in the restaurant. We’ll let you speculate on the number of seats available in the restaurant of a hotel with only 91 rooms….
Building a LinkedIn profile with millions of followers, providing unique and interesting content must take an awful lot of effort.
Only a few people are going to manage to reach this pinnacle. Everyone else, like my Network Selling mate, stand little to no chance of emulating this.
Based on the slim pickings evident by Brigette’s potential real life audience who are prepared to pay for extremely low margin tickets to witness her genius first hand, there is absolutely no reason for anyone else to try to emulate this business model.
Canny marketing and self promotion only gets one so far. If the underlying content and substance is bollocks, people won’t pay for the product.
Monetising “likes” and “follows” is where the rubber hits the road. Or doesn’t, as Brigette is illustrating.
If this is all Brigette can achieve with her massive “network”, what hope do the rest of the aspiring
chumps influencers have?
Lastly, draw your own conclusions on how inspiring Brigette’s talk is likely to be. Here’s a recent interview.
Sadly, I couldn’t find one with Oleg….
The Climate Council (no, not a shite Paul Weller band) quoted a UN official recently;
The inference being, of course, if you care about the Great Barrier Reef, you need to care about climate change because that’s the biggest cause of damage to said reef.
Obviously these scientists know what they’re talking and in no way are they obfuscating or trying to mislead.
Oh, this is awkward.
The overarching consensus is:
Key Great Barrier Reef ecosystems continue to be in poor condition. This is largely due to the collective impact of land run-off associated with past and ongoing catchment development, coastal development activities, extreme weather events and climate change impacts such as the 2016 and 2017 coral bleaching events.
Current initiatives will not meet the water quality targets. To accelerate the change in on-ground management, improvements to governance, program design, delivery and evaluation systems are urgently needed. This will require greater incorporation of social and economic factors, better targeting and prioritisation, exploration of alternative management options and increased support and resources.
The evidence base supporting this consensus is provided in a series of four supporting chapters. The main conclusions were:
1 The decline of marine water quality associated with land-based run-off from the adjacent catchments is a major cause of the current poor state of many of the coastal and marine ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. Water quality improvement has an important role in ecosystem resilience.
2 The main source of the primary pollutants (nutrients, fine sediments and pesticides) from Great Barrier Reef catchments is diffuse source pollution from agriculture. These pollutants pose a risk to Great Barrier Reef coastal and marine ecosystems.
3 Progress towards the water quality targets has been slow and the present trajectory suggests these targets will not be met.
4 Greater effort to improve water quality is urgently required to progress substantial pollutant reductions using an expanded scope of tailored and innovative solutions. Climate change adaptation and mitigation, cumulative impact assessment for major projects and better policy coordination are also required to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
5 There is an urgent need for greater investment in voluntary practice change programs, the use of regulatory tools and other policy mechanisms to accelerate the adoption of practice change, and robust monitoring and evaluation programs to measure the rate and effectiveness of adoption.
6 Strengthened and more effective coordination of Australian and Queensland government policies and programs, further collaboration with farmers and other stakeholders, and strong evaluation systems are critical to the success of Great Barrier Reef water quality initiatives.
7 Priorities for reducing pollutant loads are now established at a catchment scale, based on the exposure of coastal and marine ecosystems to land-based pollutants, and should be used to guide investment.
8 A greater focus on experimentation, prioritisation and evaluation at different scales, coupled with the use of modelling and other approaches to understand future scenarios, could further improve water quality programs.
Hang on, the biggest problem is water quality, primarily due to agricultural run-off?
Why then, would the Climate Council of Australia suggest climate change is the biggest enemy?
Follow the money (highlights mine);
The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change and solutions based on the most up-to-date science available.
We’re made up of some of the country’s leading climate scientists, health, renewable energy and policy experts, as well as a team of staff, and a huge community of volunteers and supporters who power our work. As an independent voice on climate change, we get climate stories into the media, produce hard-hitting reports, call out misinformation as we see it and promote climate solutions such as the transition to renewables.
The Climate Council was founded in 2013 by tens of thousands of Australians to create a new, an independent and 100% community-funded organisation in response to the abolition of the Australian Climate Commission.
“Please keep donating money so that we can all keep our jobs“, in other words.
There is an uncomfortable axiom about charities and not for profit organisations; they have an ecosystem (no pun intended) around simply existing that keeps many people employed and feeling important.
That the initial facts justifying the creation of the charity/NFP may have changed, are no longer compelling or worse, are proven false, can be of little interest to the organisation when so many people rely on its existence for their day to day subsistence.
A recent example of this is the UK’s Kids Company. Similarly, there were cases of US polio eradication charities that struggled with the existential threat following the success of the vaccination programme and, in a few cases, resorted to changing their mission and committing fraud.
Obviously, one hesitates to accuse the Climate Council of fraud so there must be some other reason that they would have forgotten to mention the significant role of agricultural run off in the damage inflicted to the reef.
In other news, the head of the Climate Council is Tim Flannery, a man with a stellar track record of science-based predictions.
Those of us who have to work for a living and frequently change employers find ourselves dipping in to the productivity black hole that is
Creepbook for Business LinkedIn in the vague hope that some positive outcome will result from all that desperate networking.
Newflash; it never does. Buy a weekly lottery ticket instead, at least you’ll win ten bucks back once or twice a year.
If one views LinkedIn as anything more than a glorified electronic rolodex with the names and contact details of people you’ve met at work, you are setting unrealistic expectations.
That’s not to suggest that using LinkedIn to tout yourself like a truckstop hooker doesn’t pay off for some people. In fact, you can absolutely be certain that it does otherwise it would have gone the way of Pets.com long ago. Just like the infamous Nigerian “419” scam emails, despite the minuscule odds of success, the proof that the business model works is that the activity continues.
Recently I received an unsolicited connect request from someone working in an adjacent field of expertise to me. Against my better judgement, I connected and then had a follow up dialogue which resulted in the offer of a coffee meeting.
“Fine“, I thought, “not much to lose and there’s a slim chance he might be able to introduce me to my next employer“.
The gentleman was pleasant enough, clearly knowledgeable and not particularly creepy.
He told a story of a radical change in career in the last 6 months. Filling in the gaps, it looks like a redundancy cheque, a significant birthday and some professional advice had diverted him away from continuing with his current career trajectory to concentrate on becoming a recognised person of influence within his industry instead.
Quite what that meant was left somewhat opaque, but it seemed to involve being a public speaker, published author and, as I later discovered, really fucking annoying on my LinkedIn timeline.
How really fucking annoying? Regardless of the time of day, whenever I logged in to the social media website there would be some asinine comment from him on a random subject ranging from mental health to the best type of tenant to be sought for his investment property (I’m not joking).
This, it would seem, was due to advice given by a consulting firm he had paid about $15,000 to for training on how to be a recognised person of influence (not quite their wording but close enough – I’m not in the business of being sued).
A pattern was emerging with these annoying time pollutants too; he was commenting on the same half a dozen people’s content and they were doing the same back. What’s the betting they were all on the course together?
Rather than cut him off without warning, we had the following SMS exchange;
Hey, can I offer some unsolicited advice?
I think you’re being too promiscuous on LinkedIn. The video content is great but the one sentence replies to other people’s “Facebooky” posts risks diluting your brand.
I have clicked the “unfollow but remain connected” button on loads of connections due to posting volume not value.
Sorry, if that’s not welcome advice!
Thank Billy. I hear you. It’s a balancing act. To gain traction on linked in, one needs to comment and be commented on. So today, it’s part of a numbers strategy where we help each other. I don’t much like the grouping though.
A few more exchanges did nothing to dissuade him. I suspect there’s more than an element of “sunk cost bias” going on here. He’s paid his consulting fees and is desperate to see some kind of return.
I’ve seen this behaviour before.
Over the course of a couple of years in London, three seperate friends and acquaintances tried to pull this water filter/supplements/storage boxes sales scam on me.
“Use your network to make money“, they would say. “I introduce you and you introduce others and they introduce their friends and we all make money“, they’d beam with a smile one normally associates with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Except they didn’t make any money. None.
The 1995 article linked above from the former newspaper, The Independent, has a line which particularly resonates;
Unemployed graduates, freelancers and management victims of “company downsizing” are particularly likely to be tapped.
The ones I batted away in 90s London and this chump have something in common; they were recently retrenched.
Back to LinkedIn…
There are two superstars of the “influencer” variety that one just can’t shake off the timeline; Brigette Hyacinth and Oleg Vishnepolsky. They operate on very similar principles of writing an utterly crap, barely believable anecdote about some counter-intuitive act of kindness or virtue-signalling they claim to have performed and then asking their network “what do you think?“. Cue a thousand sycophantic comments demurring and cheering along.
One assumes they make money from this somehow, just like the most successful Nigerian “prince” or “government” minister requesting your bank account details did.
Everyone else though, my new best friend included, gets nothing.
Well, that’s not quite true; he got unfollowed by me today.
The Alien series of movies have a fairly formulaic ending; Sigourney or some other hero kills off the beast and settles back ready for hibernation and a journey back to a safe planet, but then we realise the alien is not quite dead and the battle recommences.
Blocking Brigette and Oleg from your LinkedIn feed is quite analogous; just when you’ve clicked the three little dots and selected “unfollow but stay connected” on whichever bastard polluted your timeline this time, another one pops up.
By the way, have you heard about these great water filters that aren’t available in the shops? It’s a great business opportunity!
Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.
Fair warning; if you are allergic to the accent demonstrated in the song Valley Girl, this is going to hurt. You may consider soaking a box of Q-tips in bleach in preparation for repairing the aural damage.
In it, Ezra interviews Amy Chozik, author of the book “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling“.
Before you set off with us on the journey of discovery, perhaps have a pencil and paper handy to count the number of redundant times the words “like” and “so” are used. The podcast might have been 15 minutes shorter if precision of language was a concept the pair understood.
In the podcast, our protagonists discuss the reporting of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The overwhelming emotion expressed by these two objective journalists is one of regret and, dare we suggest it, shame.
The pair talk about “bias” a lot but not in terms of any suggestion they were biased towards wishing for a Clinton presidency but that they weren’t biased enough in their reporting.
For example, at 17 minutes in, they discuss the “tragedy” of the result. This is not the language employed by unbiased professional reporters. However, any semblance or artifice that they would describe themselves in those professional terms is shed as the conversation develops.
Ok, so we have two partisan writers discussing an election that didn’t go their way. At least the form of the conversation should be easy listening? They’re paid to write for a living, at least.
Nah. Wince as the English language is mangled under our brutal wrestling tag team; “lightning rod-ness” was a particular stand out, as were “stories we pre-wrote” and “pre-writing” whilst discussing the articles they hoped to file after Clinton’s victory. Presumably “pre-writing” is the writing one does before one writes?
See also, “pre-planning“, the planning one does before one plans, and “pre-warning“, the warning one gives before a warning, (to be clear, they don’t use these terms, they’re just two of my pet peeves).
Wonder also at how “gendered” the media coverage of the election was. Other people’s coverage, of course, our two heroes never once made any capital out of the biological differences between Hillary and Bernie or Donald. Oh no sir-ee (or madam/gender fluid person).
Enjoy also the exquisite irony of the use of the phrase, “abdicating our responsibility to think it through“. Spoiler alert; they aren’t talking about why the public didn’t trust Hillary or their reporting of Hillary.
An almost a throwaway line; “Trump’s bashing of the first amendment” was instructive. The fact that there’s no explanation of what is meant by that assertion speaks volumes; Ezra accepts it unquestionably as an axiom we all understand (or should be forced to?). It’s still not clear what he’s done to stop free speech.
Perhaps the best amusement is to had towards the end of the interview where we discover that the abuse directed at journalists was worse from Bernie Sanders’ supporters than anything Trump’s redneck, white-supremacist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Islamaphobes could throw. Really? The left can be more brutal and threatening? Who knew?
Theres a significant problem with much of what passes as contemporary political discourse; people have lost the ability or desire to understand the opposing view. It is fashionable to write off one’s opponent as acting in bad faith and therefore deserving of whatever sanction we see fit, ranging from “no platforming” to impeachment and prosecution.
Subjecting ourselves to interviews such as this one help us understand how the other side are thinking. The expression “to steel man an argument” is something worth exploring if this is of interest.
A secondary advantage of listening to interviews like this is it is unintentionally fucking hilarious and a wonderful example of the meaning of the word schadenfreude.
Lastly, among his many verbal tics, Ezra frequently uses the expression “I’m curious” to commence a question that could simply have started with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how”.
Ironically, it is apparent to the most casual observer that the one characteristic Klein doesn’t posses is curiosity;
The unexamined life is not worth living.
There are just some people whose advice is best taken with an industrial-sized pinch of sodium chloride. Or, in other cases, not taken at all.
In fact, there are some investment “experts” who have a track record of giving great advice…. to themselves, but utterly disastrous advice to others.
Some examples spring to mind; Dick Fuld, Bernie Madoff, Fred Goodwin and, in Australia, John McGrath.
For those not obsessed with the Australian property market (i.e. the other 7.417bn people living in the rest of the world), you may not of heard of the financial disaster zone who is the self-styled “million dollar agent”, John McGrath, let’s quickly catch you up;
John is an estate agent (“realtor”, in North American speak) with a chain of 90+ franchise offices across the country. He started his business in 1988. There might be something significant about the year which we’ll come back to later.
In a recent opinion piece, John offers sage advice to people who might find themselves somewhat underwater with property that is worth less than they paid for it… that’ll describe anyone who bought property in most Australian cities in the last year, for example.
What is that advice then, is it nuanced for owner-occupiers, amateur investors, those nearing retirement, etc.?
Hold, don’t sell.
What, even someone close to retirement, hoping to maximise the capital available to buy an annuity and worried that they’re exposed to a falling asset?
Hold, don’t sell. I repeat; Hold, don’t sell.
Crikey (in the vernacular), that’s ballsy.
Ok, but he’s a seasoned veteran of 30 years in the industry, he knows what he’s talking about, doesn’t he? He’s seen the cycle multiple times.
Oh, he’s barely experience a recession or significant economic downturn in his adult life, let alone when he managed any material level of financial asset. He started work in 1988 and the last recession was 1992. He probably didn’t notice as he was still living with his parents.
Ok, so what if all he’s ever known is large percentage asset growth, he’s proven himself a canny advisor to assist others to make great investments.
Witness; the share price of his business, the imaginatively-titled McGrath Ltd. since the launch in 2015;
To paraphrase Sesame Street, “today’s chart was brought to you by the words ‘shareholder‘, ‘value‘ and ‘destruction‘”.
Perhaps the fairest thing one can say about John McGrath is that he gives very canny investing advice….. to people named John McGrath.
It’s a fool who says they know what will happen to a particular asset price. But, with a property market that seems to be desperately searching for any good news, and failing to find any, the greater fool is someone who thinks that John McGrath has a Scooby about what’s about to happen next and, if he does, he’s about to tell you the truth.
If you really want to become a millionaire, take 6 million dollars and invest it in whatever John McGrath tells you to.
A cynic might suggest John would like you all to not flood the market with your firesales until he’s finished the conveyancing on his.
Caveat emptor, indeed. Perhaps he ought to change his name to “the 900 thousand dollar agent, 899, 898, 897…….“
“You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave“.
One wonders what the likelihood is of this idea being successfully implemented and being successful in its outcomes;
For some mysterious reason, known only to a select few people with massive intellects, new immigrants to Australia almost exclusively favour the largest cities as their first choice when selecting an area to move to.
To be more specific, the they favour the two largest cities; Melbourne and Sydney.
This causes significant headaches for politicians as they are required to ensure infrastructure and essential services are in place and planned commensurate to the likely population levels in each area.
There are other headaches to be had for those poor hard-working politicians too. Specifically, the problem that the economies of their regional constituencies are being “hollowed out” as young people increasingly vote with their feet as soon as they are able and leave their rural hometown for life in the busy metropolitan areas (no, we’re not talking about you Adelaide, sit down).
There’s a critical mass problem in regional Australia where there needs to be farmers and farm workers to grow the produce the city slickers want to eat but providing quality infrastructure services, ensuring there’s good medical and dental care, maintaining a public school system, etc. becomes increasingly expensive relative to the economies of scale that can be achieved in higher density areas.
To a certain extent, t’was always thus the world over. Australia has an additional nuance to this due to her physical size and lower density of population distributed outside the main conurbations.
Over the very long term, one can imagine the solution to Kim Stanley-Robinson’s Malthusian Fallacy will be found using technology and scientific breakthroughs to automate agricultural production reduce the reliance on humans performing traditional roles on farms.
Perhaps the problem is only a 10 to 20 year one then, after which everyone can live in in the megacity with hot and cold running soy decaf and kale smoothies on demand.
Nonetheless, there’s a bit of a problem to be solved here; the politicians don’t want to hamstring economic growth. One way to ensure the GDP figures keep rising is to increase the number of productive workers contributing to it. Put bluntly, they have to persuade the existing population to either throw away their birth control pills or accept a constant flow of immigration.
Note, the politicians aren’t offering a third or fourth option to have flat/contracting GDP growth, or economic growth built on a technological solution to productivity. The parameters of the debate are constrained within an Overton Window to “rising GDP is good, immigration is the solution to achieve this“.
Which is, of course, the the reason why the debate has turned to methods to encourage immigrants to live in places the existing population, especially the politicians, don’t want to. Our old friend expressed versus revealed preferences is at work again.
Back to our original question then, what’s the chances it’ll work?
Some categories of Australian immigration visas already mandate and enforce an element of rural living. There is a “working holiday visa” which rewards the holder to a longer duration of stay if they spend a period of their time performing seasonal work on remote farms. So there is precedent.
There’s some not insignificant differences between what is currently in place and what might be proposed however, not least of which is the demographics involved. The seasonal workers tend to be young people, often single and with no dependents. They are here for a good time not a long time.
The new immigrants who will be mandated to live in the regional areas are likely to be older, married and parents of dependent children. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, their prime concern is to going to be less focused on earning enough to spend the weekend partying on MDMA and browsing what’s on offer on Tinder but more about improving the quality of their housing, the education of their children and affording the airfare back to their country of origin every couple of years.
If the employment options, housing, schools, medical care and ability to save money are sub-optimal in Buttfucksville, Queen’sland, they are going to pack up their belongings and move to the city.
How might the government prevent this, do we think? Checkpoints on all the major roads? Random visa checks? Further requirements on employers to perform the role of Immigration Officer?
Perhaps there’s a clue in the incentives for the working holiday visa workers? Perhaps the initial visa granted is temporary and it can only be converted to permanent residence status after a defined and proven period living in the regional area? What might go wrong with that idea?
Mandating where immigrants live when they have made the huge personal decision to relocate countries feels like a reasonable idea but it relies on so many factors to be aligned to ensure success;
What if there are no job vacancies in the area, what if the available jobs aren’t suitable for the immigrants’ skills or don’t pay enough to make life sustainable to support their families?
What if the education options available can’t cope with the additional demands of children living in households where English isn’t spoken?
These people will, quite reasonably, claim special status and exemptions due to the government not holding up their end of the bargain.
Here’s a prediction worth noting; the Australian government’s proposals, whatever they are, will not result in a significant shift in the location immigrants live and work, ether due to gaming of the system or failure of an arm of government to plan effectively and exemptions being granted as a consequence.
But the most interesting aspect about this debate is what we are not talking about; what is the full range of solutions to the problem of falling productivity and why aren’t we being shown these, if only for the opportunity to agree that immigration is the only solution?
Open the Overton Window!