Mr. Chesterton’s Fence

This popped up on my Creepbook for Business timeline today;

Firstly, if anyone can explain in the comments what a “Gender Economist” is and what tangible benefit they bring to the species, I’ll be very grateful.

I’m more curious to examine Mrs/Miss/Ms Moore’s idea in more detail, however.

G. K. Chesterton famously described an imaginary fence in the middle of a field and suggested that we shouldn’t allow someone to take it down unless they could describe precisely why it was originally built. His point being that there was presumably a very good reason it was there in the first place and, although that reason may not still be valid, we should not remove it until we’ve understood the consequences.

What then, might we be giving up if we were to remove all honorifics when addressing each other? Why have honorifics been in use for all these years of human history?

Here’s a few reasons I can think of immediately;

1. A sign of respect and deference when addressing someone.

2. To add further information to a person’s name, such as gender and, in the case of females, marital status (since the 1960s, this additional item of information can be opted out of by the request to use “Ms”).

3. To assist in efficiently providing context and clarification particularly in situations when there are two people with similar names, Joe Smith and Jo Smith, for example.

4. Professional information and status, such as Doctor, Reverend, Professor, Captain, Darth, etc.

5. To provide additional information about the age of the person, particularly for males (Master), but more ambiguously for females (Miss).

There’s probably other reasons but five seems a good enough number to justify not removing them without fully planning for the consequences.

Bill’s Opinion

Susanne Moore might want to consider legally changing her name as, simply by looking at her first name, we can tell she’s female regardless of whether or not it is prefaced with an honorific.

However, it’s still not clear to me why it is a problem that people receive additional information with a person’s name.

Dick by name….

Australia is home to a gentleman called Dick Smith. He owns an eponymous chain of electronics’ stores where one can purchase all manner of flat screen TVs, music systems, white goods and other devices.

To the best of our knowledge, practically none of these devices are manufactured domestically. Like most western economies, Australia used to manufacture TVs and radios but the availability of cheaper and better quality imports from its northern neighbours in Asia hastened the decline of the industry.

Dick Smith has personally benefited greatly from this destruction of the local industry.

Imagine our surprise therefore that he feels the need to berate an overseas supermarket chain from copying his successful model but in the grocery sector.

Apparently, the management of Aldi are morally reprehensible for providing good quality imported food products at a lower price than can be produced domestically.

Ponder that for a moment. Now look at the brand of phone, tablet or PC on which you are reading this. Where was it made? Korea?

Now look at the label in your shirt or dress. Was it tailored domestically? Unlikely.

What should be done about this?

Bill’s Opinion

Dick Smith is typical of most Australian “entrepreneurs” in as much that, once he has made his fortune, he sees no reason to feel shame about lobbying and making public statements to pull the ladder up and prevent others from following his example.

His competitor, Gerry Harvey, is another example of this syndrome, campaigning for the federal government to impose the 10% General Sales Tax on low value overseas internet purchases, despite the fact that this will incur a net cost to the taxpayer.

“Capitalism” is a much maligned noun these days but consider whether there really is that much of it about. Certainly the people who often are pointed at as being “capitalist” are no such thing. Dick and Gerry have more in common with the mercantilists of the 16th century than Adam Smith or Ayn Rand.

It’s definitely the rental agency’s fault

In Victoria, Australia, a place where corrupt unions and progressive politicians rule the roost, a young girl was murdered at a private party.

Of course, the political instinct in response to this is never to let the judicial process run its course; prosecuting the suspected murderer by a fair trial, sentencing them to prison if found guilty, letting them go free if found innocent.

Nope, in Victoria, the answer is to look to increase regulation.

Wait, what?

What new regulation is required in a murder case?

Regulation against AirBnB.

Seriously…… why? Because the apartment where she was murdered was a short term lease through the rentals website service, so, in the lefty logic, AirBnB must somehow be partially responsible.

Maybe the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, has a point. Let’s step through some counter arguments to our instinctive position that it was 100% the murderer’s fault that she died;

Devil’s Advocate Position 1

If AirBnB hadn’t let the apartment to a bunch of teenagers, they wouldn’t have thrown a party which got out of hand and a murderer wouldn’t have murdered her.

Let’s face it, who amongst us hasn’t had the urge to violently murder someone at a party in a short term rental apartment? None of us? Hmmm, maybe that’s not Daniel Andrews’ greatest argument then.

Devil’s Advocate Position 2

If AirBnB hadn’t rented the apartment, the party wouldn’t have happened and a violent murderer wouldn’t have murdered the girl.

Because teenage parties were only invented after AirBnB was established? Because murders never occurred before AirBnB was established?

Devil’s Advocate Position 3

AirBnB have a duty of care to all visitors of their rental properties. Therefore there should have been some protective measures in place to prevent a murderer from murdering in the property.

By this logic, your rental car company should prevent you from crashing the car or hitting pedestrians.

Bill’s Opinion

If you are a legislator in a country with Common Law, consider the possibility that, 803 years after Magna Carta, there may already be appropriate legislation to cover most major crimes. How likely is it, after all those years and hundreds of thousands of man days spent considering legislative responses to public policy questions, that you’ve just landed on the best solution to a pre-existing problem?

Murderers are responsible for their crimes, not the owner or letting company of the room in which the crime was committed.

Noah more racism

Trevor Noah is a South African comedian currently earning big bucks in the USA as the darling of the left-leaning media (but I repeat myself).

Not being much of a TV viewer, especially not of programmes filled with virtue signalling, my only previous exposure to Trevor’s work was when he appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix show, “Comedians in cars getting coffee”, which, incidentally, would be more grammatically-pleasing if it were renamed “buying” or “drinking” coffee.

Actually, the shows title is often misleading in other ways; Sarah Jessica Parker, for example, is a mediocre actress who may have also once or twice said something funny but she completely failed to repeat the experience on camera throughout the entirety of her episode.

But we digress.

On Noah’s episode, he seemed to make great store by referencing his experiences living under the oppressive Apartheid system.

For the record, Noah was born in 1984. Apartheid was overturned and democratic majority rule was implemented in 1994.

Perhaps Noah has vivid pre-pubescent memories of institutional racism and segregation or perhaps he is playing the race card to inveigle himself with a sympathetic but naive American audience.

Anyway, it turns out that even people with melanin in their skin can still be racist. Footage of Noah has surfaced of him saying mean things about Australian Aborignal women.

Wait, what?

Bill’s Opinion

This must be very confusing for people, how can a dark-skinned person be racist?

Using our patented razor of logic, we can easily clear this up;

People familiar with the ethnic demographics of South Africa will realise that Trevor Noah is what is/was referred to there as “Coloured”, that is, mixed race.

Somewhere in his ancestry Trevor has a European ancestor, presumably a horrid oppressive rapist white person (but I repeat myself).

Clearly it’s these genes that are responsible for Trevor’s vile comments that Australian Aboriginal women are not attractive and not the fact that people of all ethnic backgrounds can be racist dickheads.

Plastique retards

Today’s blog post is brought to you with the risk of legal action from Tim Newman as he has made his corner of the internet the go to location to laugh at plastic bag bans. I saw this one first, Tim, ok?

In Australia, most states/territories, with the exception of New South Wales, have banned supermarkets from giving away single use plastic bags with shopping.

In response to this, the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths have removed said bags from New South Wales’ stores too. I’m sure this decision was reached for purely environmentally-righteous reasons and not simply because running two different processes and sourcing operations is inefficient.

At roughly the same time as the implementation of this voluntary ban, Coles have introduced a promotion aimed at families where small models of well-known branded goods are given away to kids so they can play “shops” at home.

Apparently, this is a terrible thing. Why? The toys are plastic, of course.

People are understandably outraged that a company such as Coles could be so unthinking as to offer free plastic toys to its customers.

How on earth can this outrageous situation be mitigated? It’s hard to think of a single action any of us could take to solve the problem of unwanted plastic washing up on the pristine Australian beaches.

Well, perhaps we might think of one or two things people could do if this plastic giveaway upsets them so much;

  1. Say, “no thanks” when offered the toys at the checkout.
  2. If (1) is too difficult, say “thank you” but then throw them away in the appropriate recycling bin when your children grow bored.
  3. Don’t give your children any other plastic toys, not just supermarket giveaways. Obviously, this means they will only ever play with expensive hand-made wooden toys and will be ridiculed at school for not having the latest fidget-spinner or whatever the latest fad is but that’s the price they have to pay for saving the oceans.

 

Bill’s Opinion

90% of all plastic in the world’s oceans come from just 10 rivers, none of which are in Australia. If people were truly concerned with cleaning the oceans they would direct their online ire at the governments, corporations and consumers in the African and Asian countries those rivers pass through.

That they don’t but berate an Australian supermarket for offering (i.e. consumers have a choice to decline) some kids toys says more about the perma-offended and their inability to use basic Pareto methods to work out how their efforts are best expended.

Lastly, it’s the weekend and if we are going to be talking about plastic, here’s my favourite type of plastic.

Every city or house divided against itself will not stand

A recent survey suggests that London might not be the swinging epicentre of liberal values that it once was.

How strange.

About 15 years ago, I was delighted to witness the work of the hilariously bipolar close-hand magician and foul-mouthed comedian, Jerry Sadowitz, at the tiny Soho Theatre. One of his throwaway lines was the following;

So anyway, I was drinking in a gay bar just round the corner last night. How did I know it was a gay bar? Well, it’s in fucking London, isn’t it?“.

That this joke is/was funny is testament to the national stereotype London has of being a centre for all manner of non-traditional non-conservative values and lifestyles.

Comedy is built on kernels of commonly-held axioms. In the recent past, London was universally thought to be the home of the freaks, the weirdos, the people on the edge of society. It was a place where one could go and be relatively safe from harm and avoid people who were harshly judgemental.

The survey suggests this is a memory now, not reality.

What might have caused this, do we think?

Two obvious explanations come immediately to mind, either;

1. The population of London has changed its opinion, or

2. The population of London has changed, i.e. there’s been a replacement.

There’s an hilarious clue in the survey’s narrative;

Or, in other words, “if we exclude everyone with a religious opinion from the data, the remaining people are just as tolerant as everyone else“.

Quite.

But apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy your evening at the theatre?”.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that, when a city’s population has a large increase of a particular demographic with conservative religious views, they bring their opinions with them largely unchanged.

When a billionaire slanders you in public…

Do you;

A. Get lawyered up and start making very strong statements about damage to your reputation, safety, longevity in your adopted country, relationships with friends and family, etc. or,

B. Just say legal action is a possibility but you haven’t decided yet.

Bill’s Opinion

Being publicly slandered by a billionaire for something that isn’t true is like holding a wining lottery ticket.

It seems strange not to cash it in immediately.

The answer to the question might not be very welcome

Those readers who find themselves in Sydney at the start of September may consider the following opportunity to “analogue troll” for $45.

Of all the breakout sessions, this one piqued our interest particularly;

Where to start? In the words of Luke Skywalker, “Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong“.

Let’s answer the question asked in the session’s title last and pick off the sentences in the description first.

42 billionaires now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population.

Interesting use of language there; bottom half. I think they mean poorest half if we’re trying to not be judgemental or insulting. Anyway, the relevant question to ask about that statement might be, how does this situation compare against previous periods in human history? Is the trend improving or worsening?

Pick your data source and point in time for comparison but it has been estimated that for most of human history, the average daily income was the equivalent of $1.

At the time of Croesus, the world’s population was approximately 115 million.

Comparing averages is dangerous statistical activity, as is comparing net wealth with income, but let’s assume half of the people alive with Croesus had an income of $1 a day in modern terms. Let’s also assume that they had no real savings to speak of and were living hand to mouth. So, do we think Croesus’ net wealth was less than $57.5m, i.e. half of the population multiplied by a dollar a day?

Similar examples might be made with Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, several of the Emperors of China, the Pharaohs of Egypt, various Indian emperors, etc.

What about any number of other historical figures who concentrated massive wealth and land? Do we think their wealth was above or below about $57.5m in modern terms? If above, we’ve just dismissed the first statement of our Sydney Socialist friends as being irrelevant.

Let’s look at the next assertion;

In a world that’s never been richer, hundreds of millions remain trapped in poverty, facing starvation and disease, especially in the so-called “third world”.

Well, the world has indeed never been richer. This is an interesting chart from The Atlantic (a publication not known for blindly supporting free market capitalism) showing GDP per capita over the last few hundred years;

Gosh, I wonder what might have caused that huge improvement since 1800 in Western Europe and the USA? Sure, that’s about the time Marx and Engels wrote their envious little book but, in the real world, something was happening in England that was changing the level of wealth and finally breaking the Malthusian model.

The statement about hundreds of millions remaining trapped in poverty is less accurate and, in fact, increasingly wrong as time proceeds. Don’t believe us? Ask the UN. The target of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty was achieved 5 years early.

Again, why do we think that happened?

The last sentence is a question, which we’ve already shown to be asked from a false position;

What has led to this obscene situation, and who is to blame?

Bill’s Opinion

The answer to the question, “Why is the third world so poor?” could be as simple as “Collectivism, i.e. Socialism”.

Perhaps the better question to ask is, “Why is the third world being lifted out of poverty so rapidly?

To which we would offer the answer, “An embracing by the general population of free markets, international trade and the individual desire for self-improvement”.

Capitalism, in other words.

Before the industrial revolution, people were living in abject poverty in hand to mouth existences. Marx and Engels could have watched the starving farm workers being buried in the ground if they had visited rural England. Instead, they went to the concentrations of populations gathered around the new factories. The conditions they saw were also terrible but, and this is the elephant in the conference room at the Sydney Socialism event, it was better than the rural alternative. That’s why the farm workers voluntarily moved to the cities in the first place.

Let’s just leave this chart here and ask ourselves whether the Sydney Socialists really have the answer to the problem;

Nobody could have predicted a negative outcome

A woman walked into a shop and started swinging an axe at people.

Well, when we say “woman“…..

Ah.

So, in summary and using clarity of language that everyone would have understood 10 years ago;

A man with a history of severe mental illness was prescribed female hormones, operated on to remove his penis and testicles, create a “vagina” (that will require constant “maintenance”to prevent it from healing up) and is then referred to by a female name yet, somehow, “she” still has underlying severe mental illness?

It’s almost as if, I dunno, and I’m just putting this out there, it’s almost as if pretending that someone with an inherent serious mental illness just has a physical problem that can be fixed with a knife and hormones, actually doesn’t work.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve discussed previously, the outcomes for post-surgery transgender people is no better than for those who have yet to have the surgery.

Mental illnesses are highly unlikely to be cured by gender surgery and hormones therapy.

In the future, many fortunes will be made by lawyers challenging decisions taken by psychologists, doctors and public officials that have not helped and likely severely harmed transgender people and members of the public, such as the victims of this axe attack.

Sleeping the sleep of the righteous

This is a disturbing example of two academics apparently not understanding the age old lesson that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation; the more gender equality in a country, the better night’s sleep everyone gets.

Let’s have a look at the study shall we? Actually, we can’t because it’s a paid article and we’re cheap.

However, here’s some questions that we may or may not be able to answer;

What was the sample size? About 615 couple per country, across 23 countries.

France has a population of 66.9m so that’s around 0.0009% of the population that was tested.

How was sleep duration and quality measured? This was determined by the responses to the questions posed in the European Social Survey, the name of which alone should be ringing loud alarms bells in any mind capable of critical thought. People were asked about their sleep quality – they didn’t undertake any objective testing such as a sleep study.

How are countries ranked by gender equality? Without paying for the report and reading their methodology, we can’t say, obviously. However, there’s a few ready-made league tables produced already and detailed here. Given the laziness demonstrated by the “academics” by drawing conclusions from a questionnaire not written specifically for the purpose of their study’s subject, it’s probably safe to assume they didn’t go and do their own research to perform the order ranking of countries and used one of those.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s a sorry indictment as to the state of academic rigor that conclusions are offered linking sleep quality by country after putting the results of a subjectively-answered survey of a miniscule of a percent of the population into Excel, adding a nominal order ranking of countries by some manufactured “gender equality” metric, clicking “Insert Pivot Table” and then writing an academic paper and several newspaper articles on the result.

Here’s an idea that will greatly improve the quality of sleep of taxpayers all over Europe; defund the humanities in universities and shut down the ESS. After all “All participating countries are required to contribute to the central coordination costs of the ESS ERIC.“, (emphasis mine), which is, frankly, just another example of people being charged a fee to be told how awful they are.