Save the children…. from Oxfam

Oxfam are in the news for the wrong reasons again this week. An investigation by the UK’s Charity Commission has found there was an institutional cover-up of child abuse by Oxfam’s staff in Haiti.

On a lighter note, I still chuckle at Bill Bailey’s joke that Haiti is the evil 8th dwarf that Snow White doesn’t like to talk about.

The noisy outrage quite rightly generated by this root and branch moral failure by one of the world’s previously best-regarded charities risks drowning out two interesting questions;

1. What ratio of applicants for the foreign aid worker jobs apply because of the access to vulnerable kids versus those who discover latent kiddie-fiddling tendencies on arrival?
2. Are the charity’s incentives such that an institutional cover-up was always the most likely response to complaints?

My first question is facetiously-written but its underlying curiosity is serious; presumably there are going to be some applicants to a job located in a disaster zone who aren’t there for altruistic reasons or even reasons of simply needing employment, but because it’s a good opportunity to undertake behaviours that risk imprisonment and public censure back home.

I bet that percentage is a larger number than anyone would wish to acknowledge. It’s certainly not zero.

The second question brings us back to one of my favourite short reads, Steven Kerr’s “On the folly of rewarding A while expecting B”.

Incentives matter.

How are the executives and senior managers in Oxfam rewarded and for which behaviours do they receive negative consequences? If being open and honest about the validity of a serious complaint impacts the ability to raise funds, thereby impacting the future salary and bonus pool available to employees, is it really that shocking if issues are swept under the corporate carpet?

Bill’s Opinion

Oxfam is, like many charities, a fundraising organisation with an aid-distribution department attached.

No, really they are, I’m sorry if that statement seems inaccurate or bursts an illusion you were suffering from.

The fact that any charity exists for more than a few short years is proof of two things;

1. It was woeful at achieving its stated outcome through reasons of incompetence, and/or setting too high a target and/or public apathy, or
2. After achieving the stated outcome, the people drawing a salary from the charity didn’t fancy closing the operation down and getting another job elsewhere so expanded the charity’s scope.

Oxfam was created to send food to the Greeks who were starving after the Nazi occupation in World War II. At some point, the Greeks were fed and someone in a boardroom in Oxford said, “Right then chaps, job well done. Shall we close the operation down and head off to the pub or is there something else we should do with this large organisation we find ourselves in charge of?

Somewhere along that road the very existence of the organisation grew a perception of worth and quality beyond the life of the initial mission statement. Subsequent corruption and scandals were inevitable from then.

It’s a strange thing to boast

Boastfulness is a weird character trait to observe. We all do it to varying degrees, our reasons are unique but often have some similarities; self-justification and validation are major underlying factors in most boastful behaviour.

Anonymous boasting to strangers is a particularly strange and modern phenomenon, examples include writing a blog under a pseudonym (*waves in the mirror) or commenting on someone else’s blog to explain how astute an investor or business person one is (*waves to the newly-unemployed Bardon).

What we boast about is also quite instructive.

Take, for example, Sarah Thompson’s public boast about an abortion ten years ago.

Let’s give Sarah some dues here; she’s setting herself up for serious judgement and negative comments, not only under the Op Ed but on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

That this criticism will include some that will be brutally personal and judgmental does not invalidate the act of criticism or allow Sarah a free victim pass to avoid scrutiny. We can judge her boast in a respectful manner instead.  

The anectboastful OpEd is ostensibly about the latest law in the US state of Georgia to limit the abortions under the so-called “heartbeat rule”. I suggest you do some research across multiple news sources to familiarise yourself with what this does and does not mean, before picking a side of the argument to support.

The facts presented are that when she was 27 (ten years ago) she had an abortion because she felt that becoming a mother then would negatively impact her career and she assessed her boyfriend at the time as not good life partner material.

Apparently, the procedure was illegal at the time in the Australian State within which she resided. We’ll not bother addressing this as the more interesting element of the story is the boasting about it. Also, legislation tends to be downstream of the public perception of morality on a subject, hence why we aren’t currently governed by laws on dowries under the Code of Hammurabi.

There are many cases made by the “pro-choice” lobby in favour of abortion. Pregnancies due to rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life in medical emergencies, are all compelling arguments that require the judgement of Solomon to navigate through. Career inconvenience seems one of the weaker reasons offered to prevent an otherwise viable fetus from gestating to term, by comparison.

A skip through Sarah’s Twitter and Instagram account history shows a fashionable 37 year old woman who is employed by an extreme left-leaning charity (more on that in a moment), enjoying a life replete with frequent visits to the tattoo parlour, nail bar and overseas holidays. Significant others and children? Not so much.

Is she happy? Who knows? If she is happy now, will she remain so in future? Again, who can tell?

An obvious fact though, is she invests a lot of time and resources in to her job at ActionAid, a charity helping women around the world. When I suggest above that it is an extreme left-leaning charity, I am referring to the order of priorities listed on their website; apparently, what women in places like Afghanistan need most is protection from climate change. Not countering denial of access to education, self-determination in who to marry and at what age, physical safety in an actual patriarchal and violent society, prevention of rape and murder, access to proper nutrition and sanitation, etc. etc.

Whether or not that prioritisation is borne out in the targeting of resources on the ground or whether it’s a canny marketing ploy to gain access to the huge amounts of cash thrown at anything labeled as fighting climate change, we can’t know.

Bill’s Opinion

Sarah looks like she’d have been a bloody awful mother and at 37, with no obvious life partner in tow, chances are she’s missed her main opportunity to find out. With enough cash though, she still has options available, and failing that, pet shops all over Australia will be more than happy to sell her a few cats.

Sarah and I share similar qualifications to comment on USA Constitutional Law, Roe vs Wade and the legal autonomy of the states. i.e. neither of us are qualified to comment.

For what it’s worth, my view is that Roe vs Wade was a Federal overreach and each state should be free to legislate on abortion as their electorate deems fit. That way, people who want to live in a society that wants abortion to be safe, early and rare can move to Georgia while people who have no issue with killing a baby on its way out the birth canal can move to California. That is, after all, the system of government the USA has, resulting in a healthy competition between states to find the best legislation for the morality of our time.

Some folk recuse themselves from commenting on abortion, Scott Adams for example, because they take the position it’s an exclusively female issue. This is moral weakness disguised as sensitivity.

My views on abortion have become less ambiguous the further away in time I am from potentially benefiting from its convenience. It’s clear to me that, if you wanted to define the point of commencement of a new human life, conception is the only obvious moment. All other versions I’ve seen of the definition have a logical fallacy at their heart.

I understand though, from a pragmatic point of view, those who are determined to not carry an unwanted child to term are going to find a way not to, regardless of the law. I like the statement; safe, early and rare as a imprecise compromise to a horrid choice, therefore.

Sarah would define herself as pro-choice. She is correct, she has had many choices, many of which she is refusing to acknowledge. Let’s list the relevant ones in chronological order;

  1. Abstain from having sex.
  2. Abstain from having sex with someone you know you don’t want to be be with for the rest of your life.
  3. Use contraception – the OpEd has a conspicuous omission by not explaining how two well-educated people in their late 20s had a contraception failure.
  4. If an “accident” happens, carry the baby to term and decide whether you can cope with parenthood after it’s born.
  5. Offer the child up for adoption to one of the desperate couples who can’t conceive naturally.
  6. Kill the damn thing like a virus.

As brave as Sarah is for putting her head above the parapet, and a cynic might say she’ll actively benefit from this within her “in group“, the situation she describes isn’t exactly our generation’s Rosa Parks.

She’s made a lifestyle choice which, a decade later, she feels the need to boast about.

In the meantime, a ten year old boy or girl isn’t making any choices.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Allah enjoys a cold beer too

On a hot day, a palate-cleansing cold beer can be quite refreshing. I don’t suppose that’s the explanation for this though;

Terrorists linked to Iran were caught stockpiling tonnes of explosive materials on the outskirts of London in a secret British bomb factory, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

Radicals linked to Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group, stashed thousands of disposable ice packs containing ammonium nitrate – a common ingredient in homemade bombs.

Hizbollah. The “party of Allah”.

Lovely people, I’m sure. It probably means nothing important that they have a picture of an AK47 on their offical flag.

In unrelated news, the great de-platforming and de-monetising of non-Left voices on social media continues, with Stephen Crowder being the latest to feel the wrath of the tech company censorship.

Meanwhile, this account is deemed fine;

Presumably Hasanein died of an excess of Photoshop?

Anyway, there’s always a silver lining in every cloud, his lad gets free haircuts until he’s 16 years old or when he’s fitted with his first suicide vest, whichever is sooner.

You do have to love the Lóréal sheet as a nice touch, “…because you’re worth it“.

Bill’s Opinion

Jokingly referring to someone who describes themselves as “queer” by that name 7 times over the course of a 12 month period is beyond the pale and will see you thrown down the memory hole.

Being a organisation that actively targets the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, waging wars and planning terrorist attacks, and chucking gays off buildings? All good, apparently.

How interesting.

Jessica Irvine’s sharing utopia

Friend of this organ, Jessica “admire my big brain and pants” Irvine has been asked to apply her huge pants brain to the subject of Indigenous finance.

Prima facie, it may seem as if applying Jessica’s genius to matters Aboriginal might risk a somewhat condescending experience given her previous form of explaining that she can lose weight because, well, spreadsheets or something, but the people in the ‘burbs are aren’t clever enough so require the intervention of the benevolent state.

The anticipation prior to reading this latest glimpse into the mind of a polymath was exquisite; would she go full Glebe IQ snob on the traditions and customs of the First People or would she hold back and couch her language out of sensitivity?

As always with Jessica, we are left in awe at her unique skill to synthesise complex ideas into a single taciturn message behind which we can all rally;

Aboriginal people are poor because of racism and their traditions but they are happier than us rich white folk.

Ok. She didn’t actually say that in as many words but, as she explains in her flourishing finish:

As we seek to put Indigenous Australians on a more equal footing, and rightly give them better access to the benefits of today’s economic opportunities, we should also save space in our national conversation for this Indigenous perspective on what it truly means to be a rich nation.

To live comfortably, yes; but to also use our wealth to care for those in need and forge stronger communities.

The true sharing economy was under our noses the whole time.

Ah, the sharing economy.

Not sharing like Venezuela, mind you, it’s a different kind of national sharing that magically works this time.

Ok, any clues as to what this means?

The researchers found the practice of “humbugging”, or asking family for money, is common in Indigenous communities. This could be a source of support, but also a drag on an individual’s desires to get ahead financially.

Ah, scrounging.

We’ve all got one of those relatives already. If they’re not inviting you to invest in a timeshare in Footscray, they’re asking for a loan of a few thousand dollars to buy cryptocurrency.

But hey, according to Jessica we have a lot to learn from people who, according to her own article have bugger all money and are generally highly-stressed because of it;

First, to the obvious: Indigenous people don’t, on average, have much money. Indeed, half of all Indigenous people experience high levels of financial stress, compared with just one in 10 of the broader Australian community.

She hints at a solution though;

Our nation’s first people struggle disproportionately to pay bills and are more frequent users of high-cost credit sources such as payday lenders. It’s a disgrace. And we should do so much better.

Well no, she doesn’t really explain what we could do that would be so much better.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of people it is not a good idea to take financial advice from:

  • Generationally poor people.
  • Anyone working in the real estate industry, particularly if their names end in “McGrath” or “Bouris”.
  • Anyone who is so incapable of getting a real job in finance that she will accept the increasingly low wages the Sydney Morning Herald can afford.

Australian Aboriginals didn’t have the concept of money prior to the arrival of the Europeans, hence the recent laughable attempt to pretend otherwise by the Australian Mint.

Perhaps they were happier back then. Perhaps living short, brutish and painful existences before the arrival of effective medicine and agricultural techniques that eradicated famine focussed the minds of Aboriginal people to count their limited blessings.

Perhaps there’s a lesson we can learn from such stoicism.

Or perhaps we could accept the fact that this is 2019 yet a first world country, one of the richest in the world, still has a class of people who are heavily subsidised to sit in remote locations enduring a child mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan African nation?

Here’s an hypothesis; it’s far far too destructive for us to spend time and resources virtue signalling about “culture” while government policy is actively keeping fellow citizens in poverty due to the bigotry of low expectations from people like Jessica. These people have agency just like her, but they are told at every opportunity that they don’t.

Enforcing the existing laws and welfare rules consistently across geography and ethnicity would be a good first step. Don’t hold your breathe waiting for it to happen though.

Free speech for me, but not for thee

Those readers not familiar with Australia’s iteration of Common Law might be surprised freedom of speech is not enshrined in the Australian Constitution.

Precedent case law is not particularly helpful either to those believing we should be free to say what’s on our mind, limited only by the restriction of not inciting violence.

In fact, Federal legislation takes things even further in the opposite direction, with clause 18.C of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act legislating against “offensive behaviour” based on “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. Note, religion isn’t currently in that list.

There are further restrictions in State laws, this being the NSW example. The term “vilify” is used a lot in these versions of free speech restrictive laws.

“Vilify” isn’t a verb we tend to use much in our everyday lives, so our common understanding of its definition might be a little shaky. The Victorian version of free speech restriction law defines it as conduct that ‘incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule’.

…which is, frankly, a blank cheque for any politically-motivated judge presiding over a case. “Severe ridicule“, for example, could be used to describe most comedy, particularly political satire. And what’s the standard separating “severe” from simply “mild” ridicule?

Note also how the standard for the definition is the reaction in other people. Most laws have a punishment for your direct actions, yet this legislation punishes for possible future actions of others as a reaction to your action.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Further evidence that this is not the place to look for brave defence and defenders of the freedom of speech is depressingly simple to find. Examples;

Queen’sland University students hounded by the press for Facebook comments they didn’t write.

Foreign entertainers Milo Yianopolous, Gavin McInnes and political activist Tommy Robinson banned from entering the country because of their speech.

Clearly we are playing in a different ball game to the USA’s First Amendment. A different sport on a different planet, in fact.

However, our brave journalistic class are currently twisting their pinafores in angst and distress over a recent raid of the state broadcaster by the Federal police following publication of leaked classified information.

Let me just run that by you again; the government police are investigating the government news agency.

Oh look, a squirrel!

Here were are though, in 2019, finally seeing our brave media types getting behind a moral cause they are prepared to die in a ditch defending.

Slow hand clapWell played sir, well played”.

Geoffrey Robinson probably makes the best fist of explaining why the raid was on shaky moral ground, why it wouldn’t happen in the USA and UK and a defence of the media’s right to publish military secrets but, frankly, he completely fails to mention all the reasons we’ve arrived here in the first place, such as the media and legal professions’ failure to defend the little erosions of free speech over the years.

By trying to invent a right to “not be offended”, we’ve reduced the right of free speech, the consequences of which are playing out every day as hate speech laws are subjectively enforced. How else can they be enforced but subjectively, when the definition of “offence” is such a personal one?

Bill’s Opinion

Defending free speech is pretty virtueless if you only ever defend the speech with which you agree.

There is no Morality Olympics Gold Medal for only speaking up when your team is attacked. Nobel Peace Prizes aren’t usually as easy as Obama’s was to attain.

I have two questions to all those in the media who suddenly think free speech is important;

1. Where the fuck have you been for the last few decades? And,

2. Do you really think fighting for your right to publish illegally-leaked military secrets is going to be the best test case to take to appeal to reverse free speech restrictions, compared to say, defending some camp clown who writes hurty tweets on the internet?

Irony is resurrected for Australian Rugby

The ARU are looking to renew their links to charitable causes and are seeking expressions of interest;

The photo above is interesting; last time I checked, there were 15 players in a rugby team, not 10. More if you count the match reserves.

I wonder why they’ve cropped the rest of the team and wider squad out of the picture?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the press release (highlighting mine)?

Rugby Australia said it is seeking a charity partner that aligns with the game’s core vision, which includes making rugby “a game for all” and igniting Australia’s “passion for the game”.

Right then, a game for all? That’s great.

Can we get a hint of what that might mean by looking at the current charity partners?

The charity will also link with Rugby Australia’s current community partners including Disability Sports Australia, Pride in Sport, the Australian Deaf Rugby Team and Our Watch.

Pride in Sport? I wonder what they’re all about?

Pride in Sport is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist National and State sporting organisations and clubs with the inclusion of LGBTI employees, players, coaches, volunteers and spectators. The world-first Pride in Sport Index (PSI) benchmarks and assesses the inclusion of LGBTI people across all sporting contexts.

Ah, because what one does in the privacy of one’s bedroom and with whom one does it is extremely relevant to kicking a ball or swimming in a pool, isn’t it?

I suppose there’s no point in the charity, The Australian Christian Values Institute applying then?

Bill’s Opinion

As this article points out (h/t Tim), the ARU is one of those organisations that has fully-embraced the current fashion for wokeness. The problem is, they haven’t fully-worked out the details of which victim credentials trump which others.

Hence a deeply religious rugby player is about to sue the arse off the sport for firing him for legally-expressing his views, fully in line with the recognised teachings of the religion, because they are at odds with the feelings of another one of the protected groups.

Unless the Australian judge presiding over the case decides to defenestrate Common Law precedent (which, to be fair, is not beyond the realms of possibility), the ARU are going to have to cut a considerable cheque.

The lesson is straightforward.

Go woke, go broke.

Soggy bottoms

If it feels like this month’s update to the “Are we there yet, Mum” Index has come around early, it’s because last month’s was late. Sue me.

Since the Federal election and yesterday’s decision by the RBA to cave in to the noise prudently lower interest rates to yet an even lower historical low, the Legacy Press (c) and social media has been awash with vested interests talking up their own book.

Notable characters included in this description are Doctor Andrew Wilson (he’s a doctor of property!), the usually mildly sober Pete Wargent and practically every estate agent left solvent and trading. Apart from offering tangible data about “da feelz“, sorry, “market sentiment“, an increase in the auction clearance rate (i.e. the ratio of properties sold against those put up for auction) is presented as evidence for this ding dinging of the bell calling the bottom.

Now, it may well be that the nadir of the Sydney market has been and gone. That data point is, thankfully, a relatively objective measure. We can probably confirm this in about 2 month’s time when this month’s sales information has washed through the databases.

Our updated index (presented below), isn’t suggesting the trend has reversed, however. The relative change in the RBA lending data is still bouncing along at the lowest it’s ever been (before 2017, one could count the months it had been at 0.3% or below on the fingers of one hand) and the CoreLogic price index is still showing “negative growth”, i.e. prices are still falling.

It could be credibly argued that the CoreLogic data is a lag measure, so Wilson, Wargent, et al, could be correct in their bottom-calling, but the RBA data is almost certainly a lead indicator. Awkward…

Bill’s Opinion

The index suggests we’re still about 2 to 3 months from a possible bottom in the Sydney property market, and that’s likely to be the continuing situation until we’ve seen a quarter of a year’s worth of lending figures above 0.3% increases.

For those who pay attention, I’ve switched the trend line from linear to moving average as it seems more useful now we’ve reached a (low) plateau.

Better late than.. oh

Remember the false promises, customer and shareholder disappointment that is Wokepac’s New Payments Platform?

Well, have some good news and bad news…..

Good news; it finally went live, about two years after all of the bank’s major peers did.

Bad news; I bet they wish they had delayed it even longer to do a tad more testing; almost 100,000 customer details hacked by a simple query on Westpac’s NPP system.

Gosh, that’s a bit unfortunate, one hopes that it was a cis-gender white male who oversaw such an amateurish implementation and not one of the diversity quota hires such as Lyn Cobley.

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who is surprised by this latest screw up hasn’t been paying attention.

Wokepac has, like any other organisation, finite resources such as time, people, money to apply to problems and opportunities.

Brian Hartzer’s social media activity alone should be all the indicators one needs to understand that those finite resources are being applied to many other causes and crusades before “customer service” and “shareholder value” are considered.

In fact, it’s almost a certainty that fuck ups such as this are to be an expected consequence now and likely for some considerable time in the future as the legacy of de-prioritising core commercial values for the sake of corporate virtue signalling will take a long time to flush its way out of the organisation chart.

Tim Newman’s academic investigations into the cause and effect of such diversity in large corporates is going to be fascinating reading once it’s published.

Obviously it’ll be too late to save Wokepac.

UPDATE

A correspondent has been in touch to offer the following statement, “The IT security team recommended not switching on the PayID functionality but were over-ruled by the CEO“.

Obviously I can’t ascertain the accuracy of that statement. Perhaps one of the remaining journalists employed in Australia might want to stop cutting and pasting celebrity Tweets as “news” for a while and investigate?

Monorail! Monorail!

Sydney ratepayers must miss the albino pachyderm that was their late beloved monorail, formerly of their parish. It may have stopped at no useful locations and cost more than a taxi to go there but at least the liability had been paid off and it only cost them operating overheads.

It was removed a few years ago but, rather than learn a lesson about crap public transport projects nobody asked for, the State Government decided to spunk ratepayer’s money on light railways.

How’s the value for money been so far?

Oh: Light rail project costs blow out to at least 30% over budget and is two years late.

The +30% figure is conservative, by the way. That’s a calculation by a journalist based on public information. The real figure when (if) the line is completed is likely to be an order of magnitude greater. Sydneysiders should prepare the wallets for close to $3bn when the final invoice has been counted.

Actually, it’s not the ratepayers in Sydney we should feel sympathy for; the ratepayers of regional NSW are up for the same bill but none of the eventual benefit.

There’s something about grand infrastructure plans in Australia that seem to regularly under deliver and over cost. The National Pornband Broadband Network, for example.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t my area of expertise, so I welcome illuminating comments below as always.

However, it would seem that there’s been a fundamental disconnect somewhere between the NSW infrastructure planning department and the legal counsel to have let such an obvious issue of subterranean cables be so vaguely contracted for.

Do you think any civil servant will have lost their job over this $576m screw up?

The eternal lesson is there for another generation; if you want something done badly, get a government department to do it.

Nothing burgers for sale – $10 each

A reading of all 448-pages of the Mueller Report is taking place in Queens, New York on Saturday and Sunday.

Isn’t it always the case that we find out about events too late to buy tickets or to cancel other plans?

For example, U2 have just announced an Australian tour but, unfortunately, it’s too late for me to attend as the concerts coincide with a long-planned appointment I have with slamming my cock in a drawer.

But back to the performance art by people who are absolutely sane and in no way caught up in an echo chamber of views;

Beginning on Saturday evening, volunteers will read from the report over 24 hours. Music will play over some of the redacted portions.

Riveting stuff. I bet there won’t be a dry seat in the house.

Ticket sales must be huge, somewhere between the Alien Sex Fiend reunion and “T’Pau’s Greatest Hit rebooted” tour, I imagine.

“The American people paid for the Mueller Report and not a lot of people have read it,” Steven Padla, a member of New Neighbourhood, told Business Insider. “We want it to be heard by as many people as possible.”

“…..not a lot of people have read it”?

It’s not as if there’s a concerted effort to censor it; it’s a free downloadable PDF.

Frankly, if you’ve not had an utter gut full of CNN talking heads trying to find something, anything, of interest in the report for the last few months, can I suggest Rachel Maddow over on MSBC would welcome the extra viewing numbers?

Bill’s Opinion

The Kübler-Ross model is generally accepted as a good indicator of where people suffering from grief and loss are on their journey to some semblance of normality.

The stages are as follows;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It would seem stages (1) and (2) are quite hard to leave for some folks.