Mandate rooted

As we know, Australia is in the insalubrious club of tin pot dictatorships and banana republics that enforce voting by law.

So, turn out must be close to 100% then, with any missing votes due to forgetfulness or illness?

Hmm, not quite.

So despite there being an enrolment rate (ie “we know who you are and where you live for the purposes of issuing the fine”) of over 98%, only 91% of voters turned up?

Ok, but that 91% took the important task of maintaining confidence in the democratic process seriously, though, surely?

Oh;

But up to 1.5 million people on the roll failed to vote at the election. In some seats, once informal votes are taken into account, less than three-quarters of those entitled to vote cast a legitimate ballot

Ah. So, faced with a choice of a $20 fine or turning up and drawing a penis on the form, a quarter of the population chose the genital option.

One Liberal MP said the voting figures suggested ramifications for the political system and major parties.

“Everyone campaigns on the assumption that people vote. This might mean they will have to campaign on the assumption they have to get people to vote,” they said.

You mean politicians will have to go out and campaign for people’s votes and engage them on matters of policy, as if they were taking voters’ views in to account?

How novel.

Bill’s Opinion

A major difference one notices when experiencing an Australian Federal election compared to general elections in other western democracies is how little you see of politicians in the wild.

Sure, they are all over the media, dropping well-crafted soundbites in time for the evening’s TV news but you can do the weekend shopping at the local mall safe in the knowledge it will be a politician-free zone.

As for politicians walking the streets, knocking on doors asking for your support? Forget it.

I have long assumed this lack of visibility of prospective MPs is a direct consequence of compulsory voting. Politicians assume everyone is going to vote, and most likely vote en masse for their traditional demographic’s party. If that assumption is correct, then their resources are best directed at potential swing seats only.

Perhaps this taking for granted of the electorate is now becoming a poor strategy when a quarter of the electorate are going to the local school, signing on the register and then flipping the bird at the whole charade?

More of this, please.

No Australian earns the minimum wage anyway!

In a move that will directly benefit the square root of fuck all people, the Australian national minimum wage was raised by 3% to $19.49 this week.

If you are reading this from a country other than Australia, yes, that wasn’t a typo; the Australian minimum wage is $19.40 an hour!

Or;

US $13.41

€12.05

£10.64

Look at all the goods and services you’ve bought in the last year. It’s a safe bet none of them were made in Australia. Coincidence?

Before we get into the economics and demographics of Australia’s farcical minimum wage, let’s take a quick journey down a NLP cul-de-sac…

To reduce neuro-linguistic programming to a pithy sentence of dubious accuracy; it is the theory that specific words act as triggers to people’s behaviour. Perhaps that’s what the Australian socialists who came up with the leviathan bureaucracy around the central planning of wages were trying to achieve with the names they gave various elements of the legislation and policies.

In reality though, the persuasiveness of their nouns tends to have the opposite effect. As anyone who’s met a highly dangerous or tough individual has ever realised, if you must tell people you are tough, you probably aren’t. Or, more amusingly, the reason why the 1.85m tall Tiny Tim was called “tiny” was irony.

Hence, we have the Fair Work Commission ruling on Modern Awards and Penalty Rates.

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good

You’ll find out when you reach the top

You’re on the bottom

So, how many people get this mythical $19.40 an hour?

Nobody really knows. The Australian Bureau of Statistics have one of the worst reputations in the developed world for collecting accurate data on employment. A Melbourne academic study from over a decade ago estimated it was about 3% of the working population (which was about half of the total country). However, there are two factors to bear in mind when reading that study; firstly, academia is populated exclusively by those with at least a left of centre bias and, in many cases, extreme left wing views and, secondly, it’s bloody Melbourne, a city still feeling the disappointment from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the discrediting of Walter Duranty’s New York Times’ reporting on Stalin’s Russia.

Let’s assume the estimates are in the ballpark. Half the population are employed, so that’s about 12.5m people, of which, 3% are on the minimum wage. So about 375,000 people.

What work do these people do? Well, it’s easier to tell you what work they don’t do. Anything covered by this list for a start…..

Take a moment and follow that link to the Fair Work website and pick a random job you’d think is an entry level, minimum wage role. Waiting tables at a café, for example? Nope, that’ll be covered by the Hospitality Modern Award, so they will receive at least the minimum wage or higher plus other benefits such as holiday pay. Similarly, abattoir workers, concrete mixers, grape pickers, sugar cane cutters, sheep shearers, and fish gutters are all on their own “minimum wage plus” deal.

Let’s pause for a moment and state a fact most Australians aren’t aware of; Australia is the only country in the world that isn’t a socialist dictatorship that legislates wages by industry in this way.

Bill’s Opinion

At a stroke, the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage by 3%. My statement at the start of today’s rant is inaccurate, it will benefit many people because many Modern Awards are pegged to this rate, this has the effect of increasing those pay rates by 3%.

Great news; everyone has more money to spend.

No so great news; every product or service manufactured in Australia to be exported abroad has just had its input costs increased by at least 3%, thus negating any positive impact of the trashing of the currency by the RBA when they cut interest rates next month to save the banking industry.

But more importantly, who exactly benefits from this ridiculously bureaucratic centrally-planned wage system?

My guess, in order of benefit;

1. Employment lawyers,

2. Union officials,

3. Labor (sic) MPs, both State and Federal,

98. Minimum (or close to) wage workers.

It’s no game

Well, this isn’t very good for “the narrative”, is it?

And, being commercially astute, some of the snow resorts in Australia have opened early, one of them has made it a free weekend for skiers and even those snowboarder scum.

Something’s not quite right here. After all, here’s a scientific, peer-reviewed prediction from 2005;

Modelling for 2020 and 2050 shows that the resort with the most remaining snow will be Perisher, in NSW, followed in order by Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Thredbo and Mount Buller. The smaller resorts of Mount Buffalo, Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain become marginal for skiing at 2020, even in the most optimistic scenarios.

Awkwardly, 1 year from doom and Mount Buller has opened a week earlier than normal, which is a shame as some of us were expecting to go there for a camping and mountain bike holiday next weekend. Imagine our surprise to learn they’ve had a blizzard, despite the predictions of the taxpayer-funded CISRO.

But this is surely a one off, an anomaly, an outlier on the hockey stick of doom?

But wait, what happened last year?

Oh, they extended the season;

Bill’s Opinion

Climate change is both a religion and an industry.

As Mencken said;

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve. This is true even of the pious brethren who carry the gospel to foreign parts.

Reagan, journalists and weed

This is Ronald Reagan’s quip on the attitude governments have to business;

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

With this axiom, we can be certain the end has come for the once never noble profession of journalism.

Philanthropist Judith Neilson to fund a $100m institute for journalism in Sydney. Note the irony of the Gruaniad having to get the begging bowl out at the bottom of that article.

She’s a billionaire, so $100m is just the loose change down the back of the sofa, but seriously? $100m to train people in a job that produces a product nobody trusts and therefore doesn’t want to pay for any more? This is surely the epitome of the concept of “having more money than sense”.

At least the money being pissed up the wall is her own. Over in Canadia, the country that used to be home to people who were tough enough to thrive in a climate even polar bears find depressing but is now the world’s epicentre of thumb-sucking social justice, the government of Justin Trudeau have spunked $600m to help their preferred news outlets to survive a little longer.

The temptation with these two stories of insanity is to point to industries that don’t need subsidies to survive but, when one starts to look for them, they are very thin on the ground.

Here in Australia, through combinations of direct financial subsidies, tax breaks or artificially high barriers to entry, one could make the case that almost every industry sector benefits from government largesse. Examples that would immediately appear on a Google search would include banking, (the late) car manufacturers, mining, fossil fuel energy, green energy, farming (try buying an imported banana), real estate, electronics retail, childcare, taxis and even national sports.

Probably the only sectors not benefiting from welfare for business are the illegal ones. Coincidentally, the price of marijuana has not increased with CPI and, in fact, has fallen.

Bill’s Opinion

Nobody wants any more journalists. If rich individuals want to waste their money subsidising journalism, so be it, but keep your damn hand out of my wallet.

Oh, and I’m out of Rizlas.

I identify as ethnically grumpy

Australia has a new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt. It is being widely reported that Ken is the first minister in this role with an Aboriginal heritage which, to be fair, is somewhat surprising given that the role has existed since 1968.

Regardless of whatever political persuasion you gravitate to, the fact that neither the left or the faux right have been able to find someone from that community to make decisions on behalf of them is not a great look, is it? Just to pick on one previous Prime Minister (but the same goes for all the others), Kevin Rudd could tearfully say sorry for something he wasn’t responsible for that happened before he was born but he couldn’t find an Aboriginal to be Minister for Aboriginals?

Little wonder why people are cynical about the motivation of politicians….

Back to Ken, though. Let’s be gauche and point out the obvious; he doesn’t look very Aboriginal.

That statement is not offered in bad faith, but as a lead to a discussion about what ethnicity means and whether it does or perhaps should have any place in decisions about the allocation of employment, particularly those that wield power?

What exactly does it mean to be Aboriginal in Australia in 2019? How is it defined? What difference does it make?

There are three components to the official government definition of who is considered to be Aboriginal;

  1. A person who has Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent; who also
  2. Identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person; and
  3. Is accepted as such by the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live (or come from).

#3 seems to be the most critical of these; if you can show other “official” Aboriginal people agree you are one of them, you’re one of them. Cynically, this might be considered as somewhat analogous to the Medieval Relic Trade, where a nail from the True Cross could be rubbed on a brand new nail and, lo! the new nail was imbued with the magical qualities of the original.

Yes, I know, I’m sure nobody is deliberately defrauding the public purse with false claims of ethnicity in Australia, I’m just saying the possibility of mendacity is there if someone was so motivated…..

But ethnicity is a funny concept, isn’t it? I have a friend, let’s call him Rupert, who was born to two sub-Saharan African parents. His skin tone is extremely dark and has the facial features one would expect from someone with a long heritage of ancestors from, say, Kenya. Rupert was privately-educated in very expensive schools in England, and consequently speaks and has mannerism like Hugh Grant. If you spoke to him on the telephone, you wouldn’t correctly guess his ethnicity. Culturally, he’s about as English as it gets. We’ve spent many pleasant afternoons together drinking beer watching sports matches at Twickenham and Lords. So, can he really claim to be African?

Similarly, in addition to his Aboriginal ancestors, Ken Wyatt has ancestors from England, Ireland and India. That’s a lot of non-Aboriginal genes.

It’s entirely possible that there are more people alive who are officially recognised as Aboriginal in Australia today than there were when Captain Cook arrived. The British “genocide” of the indigenous people was, frankly, bloody incompetent by that metric.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s great that, finally after 50 years, someone from the Aboriginal community is now in the office responsible for making decisions on their behalf.

It does raise some questions about whether or not we really need people to be selected for jobs simply because of inherent factors like gender, sexuality, or ethnicity. Of those, ethnicity seems the most difficult to define at the margins.

We risk dividing people along lines that are subjective to the point of farce if we take this approach much further along its current course.

Personally, I have no issue with Ken’s “identification” as Aboriginal (and I’m sure he’s going to sleep more easily tonight with the knowledge of my approval); he grew up in an institutional home for Aboriginal children so, even if he was 100% ethnic Faroe Islander, he’ll have a better understanding of Aboriginal issues than most other candidates for his current job.

However, here’s an idea; why not remove the position of Minister for Indigenous People completely, and, while we’re at it, repeal any laws that legislate differently for different ethnicities (of which, there are a few). Finally, enforce existing laws equally; if you physically abuse a child in a remote community, the investigation, trial and punishment should be no different to the same offence committed in a metropolitan area and regardless of “ethnicity” and “culture”.

Ring the bells that still can ring

….forget your perfect offering,

There is a crack, a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.

To borrow an over-used adjective from the good Doctor Wilson (he’s a doctor of property! No, really!), predictably, the various completely unbiased non-vested interests have called the bottom of the Sydney housing price crash.

Everywhere one looks there are gushing articles about the green shoots of recovery in the clearance (successfully sold) rate at auctions, or the simply wonderful news that the Reserve Bank of Australia, RBA, is so bullish about the economy that they may consider lowering interest rates from the current historical lows and now the sniff of a suggestion of a hint that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, APRA, may ease the current safety checks on lenders that ensure loans can still be repaid if rates were to rise to above 7%.

In the words of Winston Wolfe, “let’s not go sucking each other’s dicks just yet, boys“. Let’s have a sober look at the facts, shall we?

Auctions – sure, the published rate is creeping above 50% but look at the volumes; half of the previous year. Also, the auction clearance data is about the most easily-manipulated and therefore least believable of all housing data points in Australia.

 The RBA – haven’t actually lowered rates yet and anyway, if they did lower the cost of borrowing, does that signify confidence in the economic trend or perhaps the opposite? Also, how much of these banks’ mortgage funding is procured at domestic rates versus the (rising) international rate? Anyone? Bueller?

APRA – haven’t changed their policy yet. They simply are considering it.

Bill’s Opinion

Sentiment is difficult to measure. In fact, given that most of the data points for sentiment are likely to be heavily skewed by the vested interests of those reporting them, I’d suggest completely avoiding any newspaper or similar media commentary.

In this internet age, we can become our own data analysts with very little effort. Transactions such as lending volumes (a lead indicator) and house prices relative to previous levels (a lag indicator) are published frequently and have methodologies we can apply a reasonable level of trust to.

These two metrics are about as solid and tangible as we need to determine when that mythical beast, the market top or bottom has arrived.

What, therefore, is our updated “Are we there yet, Mum” index telling us this month?

Hmmm.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Update;

This just popped up on my Creepbook for Business timeline, just to prove my point;

Thanks Elvis, is that financial advice you’re offering?

Man made pollution

Peter “weather is climate” Hannan is back on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald with the shocking news that Sydney is enveloped in smoke this week.

The smoke is a result of preventative burning by the State Government department responsible for managing the risk of dangerous bush fires. It’s an annual occurrence everyone who’s lived there is completely used to.

Consider then, the headline and stub offered; 

Yes, technically a deliberately-lit fire in the bush is a bushfire, but it’s not the same as an out of control, random event destroying lives and property. As for the ambient temperature in Sydney right now…. near-record warmth isn’t the most persuasive language that could be employed, is it Mr. Hannan?

Apparently, Peter Hannan was nearly an Olympic sprinter, nearly a more successful rock musician than Keith Richards and nearly a respected journalist writing about science.

There’s more language obfuscation fun to be had in his column, as is his idiom; 

Almost eight degrees above the May average. Students of statistics might wish to comment on what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from the information that a data point is higher or lower than the average of a range of data points (clue: the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you need to see more contextual data about the data range and standard deviations before you can draw a conclusion).

It was also the second warmest day this late in year season (sic) on record for Sydney, exceeded only by the 28 degree reading on May, 225, 1994.

We could read that as good news, couldn’t we? In 25 years, we’ve still not beaten the highest recorded temperature. Trend much?

Bill’s Opinion

Back burning is a good idea if you’d like people to not die from bush fires (most of which are deliberately set by arsonists or accidents, by the way, somewhat ruining Peter’s usual assertion that climate change causes bush fires).

Warm weather that doesn’t break records isn’t news.

Stop playing truant, Greta fucking Thunberg.

From clogs to clogs is three generations

The title is a saying common in the north of England.

It refers to the phenomenon of generationally-wasted family wealth, i.e. the grandparent builds a successful business, their children manage it reasonably well, the grandchildren blow the fortune.

Consider this, then:

Tesco are launching a “no touch” packaging product range of ready-diced meat to tip into a saucepan because….

…..shoppers, particularly younger ones, were “quite scared of touching raw meat

What does this have to do with clogs and apocryphal stories of indolence and profligacy in the third generation?

Well, perhaps wealth can be considered as not merely financial. A tradition where self-sufficiency, fortitude and stoicism are seen as virtues might be viewed as inherited wealth.

The current crop of squeamish and picky eaters are deserving of extreme and frequent ridicule. It would be almost admirable if they actually had the stubborn discipline and bloody-mindedness to maintain a vegan diet and lifestyle but to resort to “no touch” pre-diced meat is the epitome of pathetic.

At a similar age, their grandparents and great-grandparents were taking the beaches of Normandy, suffering the privations of Ypres, sweeping up the post-Blitz rubble in London and making armaments in factories in the Midlands.

Bill’s Opinion

The title The Greatest Generation has already been taken, unfortunately.

Perhaps this lot will settle for The Coddled Generation?

Better suggestions in the comments, please.

A voter exercises their democratic right

…. to vote for the thing we voted for 35 months ago yet still haven’t fucking received.

Why not UKIP? Because the Brexit Party has momentum and no policies other than a WTO terms exit from the EU.

The message offered by a vote for that party should not be interpreted as a “low information vote” or for “we must do a deal at all costs” but an unequivocal, “just leave“.

Just do your damn job, politicians, or move aside and let someone take over who is able and prepared to.

Bill’s Opinion

Democracy is an exercise in mass self-delusion.

The moment those in power make the mistake of allowing us to see behind the curtain, they have put themselves in grave danger.

Et tu, Tony?

It’s quite amazing this took so long:

It’s an utter non-story. Don’t take my word for it though, follow the link and judge for yourself.

What’s important is that the #MeToo movement is coming after Tony Robbins. Whether they are successful or not will be instructive, mainly because there were so many reasons to have taken Robbins down in the past, if this one is his nemesis, we now know where the power sits.

Let’s face it, the man has made an absolute fortune selling evangelical Christianity without the Christianity part. We’ve all met someone who’s got the religion at one of his $8,000 conferences and tried to make some massive change in their life… and usually failed.

He’s a snake oil salesman and has been for decades. If he was untouchable all that time but is taken down by an old video with few off-colour comments at a paid for conference, that’s very instructive.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s not clear what Robbins has done to become the next target. If you think the controversy is about the comments on the video, you’re being somewhat naive.

First they came for, ah fuck it.