Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

This is a heartwarming tale of consumer power to save a dying brand from bygone times; a small group of dedicated enthusiasts are keeping the traditional New South Wales’ beer, Resch’s alive by maintaining a Facebook page informing people where it can be purchased.

Admirable stuff.

Ah, those halcyon days of yore when the working man would drink a simple yet honest schooner of Resch’s beer.

Not for these enthusiasts the cynical corporate machine pumping out gigalitres of tasteless piss. Oh no, they’re fighting for the little guy, the artisan brewery doing it tough amidst a market dominated by a duopoly that has taken nearly all of the market share. Bravo!

One of the beer’s younger fans, 22 year old Amelia McGuire, was introduced to Resch’s when she was in year 12 by some male friends. To her, the beer feels part of the local community (although it is owned by Carlton United Breweries).

Wait, what?

Oh, Resch’s is just another of the myriad brands of beers brewed by Carlton United (really, AB-InBev) who, along with Lion Nathan (really, Kirin Holdings), brew and sell 98 of every 100 pints of beers drunk in Australia.

See also, Little Creatures, Four Pines, and every other “craft” beer you’ve drunk in recent years.

Bill’s Opinion

Beer is the second oldest recipe in human history (bread is the first… which resulted in the discovery of beer). Maintaining a diverse range of choices of this ancient beverage is surely a good thing.

In the early 1970s, British beer diversity started to improve thanks to the work of CAMRA.

Similarly, massive improvements have occurred in the USA in the last twenty years with a thriving independent brewing sector producing interesting and award-winning beers after the pissy “Bud” decades.

Australia however, is stuck in the 1970s with their duopoly masquerading as a “craft beer” industry.

So much so, that some silly old farts have formed a society celebrating, in effect, a recipe that’s been bought by Coca Cola.

In the words of Ray Davies;

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society

God save Mrs. Mopp and good old Mother Riley

Preserving the old ways from being abused

Protecting the new ways, for me and for you

What more can we do?

To which the answer is, “more, but not this”.

[oh, and I resisted the temptation to make fun of Ms. McGuire but feel free in the comments]

What’s that definition of insanity….

….that Einstein probably never said?

Real estate agents are starting earlier this year.

Shame. You’ll be telling us next that divorce lawyers, journalists and politicians are having a hard time, and then we’ll really have to get the tissues out.

Falling prices, tighter credit and uncertainty ahead of a federal election and the final report of the banking royal commission mean a busier year for agents on the country’s eastern seaboard as they sell an increasing stock of homes on the market.

I’m not sure that statement is completely accurate; perhaps replace “busier” with “tougher”?

As several commentators on here have pointed out, in a falling market most sellers will rethink whether they really need to move. There’s a high degree of emotion attached to the perceived value of one’s house and the attitude that “it’s worth $x and I won’t take a penny less” can be deeply ingrained.

So therefore we may well see far fewer properties up for sale this year. Those who have to sell due to death, divorce or unsustainable debt will be the exceptions.

Something else will need to change too, although Eliza McGrath hasn’t spotted it yet;

Our first open [day] is on 19 January. Then we’re extending it to be a five-week campaign with the first auction on 16 February.

Given that fewer than 1 in 2 properties are selling at auction, it seems somewhat poor advice to her clients to chuck a bunch of cash at a marketing campaign and planning for an event that has a higher probability of disappointment than ever before in living memory.

Finance is getting harder to get,” McGrath says. “So getting a five-week campaign is more standard. Some people are asking for six weeks. They know from trying to buy themselves how hard it is to get pre-approval.

She’s not getting the hint, is she? The auction favours the seller only in a rising market, that power dynamic reverses on the way down.

A search for her on Google Images explains why. She looks like she is barely 30 years old. The last time the market was like this she wouldn’t have been potty trained.

Ren Hor Wong seems to have a better idea, however;

“Given the current market condition and low auction clearance rate, vendors’ confidence is low when it comes to selling,” chief executive Ren Hor Wong said.

“We see a surge in listings activity, but majority of them would not go to auction, and some probably don’t even want to go for a marketing campaign.”

Quite.

This is interesting too;

“So it’s imperative for agents to have a database of finance-ready buyers”

He might regret dropping that gem into the interview. He’s just told his competitors a good tip on how to survive this year, if they are clever enough to listen.

He’s got some other intelligent insights too;

Going off market also allows the seller to save marketing costs, a key for vendors at this low point in the market, Wong adds.

“When you can’t ask for a higher price in the market, next thing you want to do is to save money,” he says.

Smart thinking; drop the price and lower your sales costs.

Meanwhile, on Planet Millennial, reality hasn’t arrived yet;

McGrath isn’t sure what will come. The year is likely to start well, but it is hard to see further beyond, she says.

We’ll have a strong start to 2019, like 2018 did, but it’s hard to say what’s after the first quarter, with the election coming up and the royal commission [final report],” she says.

I bet you won’t, Eliza, I bet you won’t.

Bill’s Opinion

For some time now, being an estate agent on the east coast of Australia required nothing more challenging than possession of a cheap suit, a driving licence and pulse.

Things have changed this year. There will be significant consolidation of agencies and a huge reduction in the number of agents employed.

The question is, what does one do as an alternative job if all your previous work experience consisted of handing out leaflets at open houses for the last decade?

The price of Uber journeys and dog waking services in Melbourne and Sydney are likely to reduce significantly.

So what you’re saying is…

….Japanese men compete hardest when there is more cultural “face” to lose, particularly when competing against women?

Here’s an insight from the economic heavyweight that is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor, Ross Gittins.

To be fair, he’s achieved one requirement of journalisming; to inform. I, for one, had never heard of this Japanese sport before;

He also explains that there is a vast database of to be mined about how men and women compete in single sex and mixed sex races, both in terms of results and penalties for aggressive fouls.

What does this data tell us?

Wait for it; men are more aggressive than women, even more so when they are competing with women.

Which surprises no-one who has a passing knowledge of Asian culture.

There is then a whole bunch of word salad about something called “gender identity“. 

Bill’s Opinion

Japanese men in competitive sport don’t like losing.

Japanese men in competitive sport really don’t like losing to women.

Japanese women in competitive sport take fewer risks than men.

This research and Ross Gittins’ subsequent regurgitating of it is analogous to the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick in it’s importance to the human species. 

It’s possible that blog posts here may reduce in frequency soon, depending on how successful I am in my application for a 3 year research grant to investigate why men and women tend to urinate standing up and sitting down, respectively, and the influence of the cis-heteronormative patriarchy on the cultural appropriation of gender norms in the use of toilets.

In related news, if you want to understand how completely arrogant and boorish Gittins is, risk your mental health by listening to this podcast where he is interviewed by our friend Jess I can use a spreadsheet to diet, and you proles can’t Irvine

Gittins may be hugely qualified in his profession but, my goodness, when speaking he sounds an awful lot like every old bloke in the office you’ve ever met who’s close to retirement and wants to give you unsolicited advice at each opportunity that seems more about explaining how smart he is than being of any practical use to you.

 

 

Climate change maths salad

Like cooking, journalisming has its best results when using seasonal ingredients. January wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory look at all the weather records that were broken the previous calendar year. Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s effort, under the tagline “extreme weather” (“climate change” seemingly out of favour recently, suggesting some bet hedging is going on).

Unfortunately, the climate team’s intern, Nicole Hasham, was given the task of assembling the maths salad and, as we will see, is really not as competent at the task as her senior colleague, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam.

Regurgitating Quoting a Bureau of Meteorology report, Nicole starts off poorly;

Where to start?

Well, perhaps the first point to make is that averages, by their very definition need some values above and some values below. It would be remarkable if no temperatures were experienced above average during a long enough timescale.

It seems somewhat depressing to have to explain this to a senior climatologist (now there’s a job title of our time) and an environment and energy correspondent. At least one of them will have studied statistics in high school, not that you’d be able to guess it from the statement above.

The second point, and it seems somewhat obvious, is that the climate has no concept of a state or territory.

Finally, does Nicole understand, or expect her readers to understand, what “second warmest on record for daily high temperatures” means?

Or perhaps the only important words she wants us to read are “second warmest“?

Next up is a bunch of rainfall maths salad;

We dealt with this at the time.

Subsequently, the rain came along but just a little delayed.

To be fair to Nicole, she did regurgitate quote the report on this. It probably proves something significant and negative in her mind though;

“Respite”.

It’s almost as if, I dunno, the climate is a complex system that doesn’t drop a consistent volume of rain during a man made time interval known by the English noun, “month”.

This would be amusing if the Australian taxpayer weren’t picking up the bill for this so called “science”;

“Increasingly influenced by global warming”.

Really. Do tell us whose fault this is;

“Can only be explained by human influence”? Well, there’s the Scientific Method dispensed with in just 7 words. One can imagine the reception a researcher would get if they tried to apply for a grant to investigate the influence of solar cycles on global temperature.

Finally, we get to the chart that reveals Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures;

That looks shocking, especially with all that red on the chart.

Let’s look a little closer at the scale and labels though….

The Y-axis is interesting; why set the zero point as the average of 1961 to 1990? Why not take the average of the entire time range? What would that chart look like? Sadly, we don’t know because, as far as I can tell, they haven’t published the data behind the chart. Here’s the link to the original report, where we learn that the chart is showing the anomaly; Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average. We also discover that the chart above shows, Mean temperature anomalies averaged over Australia, again, calculated against the 1960-91 average for some unknown reason.

Wait, averaged over Australia“? WHAT???? 

So, in summary, you took ALL of the mean temperatures recorded across the entire continent of Australia, averaged them and then compared that against a similar average between the years 1960-91 on a chart starting at 1900?

What insight, pray tell, was this exercise supposed to result in?

 

Bill’s Opinion

To answer my final question above, this chart that is supposed to reveal Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures does nothing of the sort. What it shows is a sliced, diced, mixed together, re-diced and re-sliced set of data and then selectively colour-coded to scare people who don’t understand statistics.

By which, I mean Sydney Morning Herald environment correspondents. Well, either Nicole doesn’t understand statistics or she’s blatantly pushing a political agenda and pushing it with lies.

Which is it Nicole?

Let’s face it, this is the climate science equivalent of a collateral debt obligation, and we all know where that led.

UPDATE; I made an error regarding means vs. median in the original post. That sentence has been deleted.


Not something to particularly brag about

For reasons not quite clear to me, I found myself reading the IP Australia 2018 report. That’s the governing body for the lodging and managing of patents, in case you were wondering.

They categorise patents into overseas requests (e.g. directional drilling for oil extraction) and domestic (e.g. the rotating clothesline).

The narrative on the page is quite dry, factual and perhaps a little taciturn. For example, this paragraph;

While applications grew overall in 2017, applications for standard patents by Australian residents decreased by about five, per cent from 2620 in 2016 to 2503 in 2017. These figures include those who filed directly with IP Australia and those who entered through the PCT route, together accounting for around nine per cent of total patent applications in Australia. The leading Australian standard patent applicants in 2017 (Figure 3) were Aristocrat Technologies (157 applications), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) (45) and The University of Queensland (18).

No mention of what types of inventions are being patented and for what applications. One wonders why?

Then there’s this breakdown of the top 5 patented applicants;

Two universities, one government department (the science research organisation) and two commercial companies.

Even the least business-savvy can guess what Bluescope Steel do – the clue is in the name.

But what of Aristocrat Technologies Australia? What is the nature of this truly innovative leader of the drive for human development and progress in Australia, what is it they do for a living?

The make gambling machines.

In various countries’ vernacular; slot machines, fruit machines or pokies.

And how’s that going for them?

From the most recent annual report, very fucking well it would seem; a 48% increase in revenue over the year to a total of $3.6bn.

Business is good!

In comparison, here’s the list of overseas applicants;

We all know what Halliburton do, they get billion dollar contracts without having to tender when their ex-boss invades Iraq they’re and oil and gas services supplier.

Qualcomm and Samsung produce IT hardware, phones, TVs, etc., Novartis design drugs to keeps us healthy, Coviden make surgical equipment.

That’s a bit of an interesting compare and contrast with the company who keeps searching for new ways to lighten the load in the wallets of problem gamblers.

Bill’s Opinion

Next time an Australian politician stands up and makes some inspirational speech about innovation and preparing the Australian economy to transition to the 1990s dot com era benefit from digitisation and the like, remind yourself of which companies are currently innovating most domestically.

Let’s face it, Australia primarily sells dirt to China and houses to each other. Useful innovation? Not so much.

Of course, the final word needs to go to Gilbert Gottfried who received boos from the audience after making a bad taste joke the week after 911 about being worried his plane was scheduled to stop at the Empire State Building. Being a consummate professional, he then proceeded to tell the comedians’ “in-joke” for possibly the first time in public.

Trigger warning; if you’re a sensitive soul, you may wish to put some kale in the microwave and not listen to this.

Ladies and gentlemen; The Aristocrats;

An irrelevant retiree from Queen’sland writes….

An obscure gentlemen living out his retirement years in Brisbane has had a lengthy letter published in the paper today, in the grand tradition of newspapers printing rambling rants from retired Majors in Eastbourne or “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.

We’ll save you the chore of having to read it by summarising the entire thing in one paragraph. Actually, we just need to reproduce the final paragraph of Mr. Rudd’s letter;

The core objective of course is to avoid a Royal Commission that would lay bare the actual nature of their Australian political operations and their destruction of the NBN.

For those who haven’t heard already, the NBN is a case study in governmental profligate spending on things nobody needed or that the existing market would have provided cheaper and better if the government had simply got out of the way. See an earlier summary here.

Clearly this disaster is eating away at Kevin Rudd and spoiling his twilight years when he should be playing with his grandchildren.

The letter is also a case study; of how one side of politics struggles to see the irony of their hatred of the other side. Let’s fisk some choice moments to illustrate;

This year will be an important year for three of the world’s oldest, continuing democracies – the United States, the UK and Australia.

The US will decide, post-Mueller, whether Trump’s presidency is terminal. The UK will decide whether to tear up a half a century of European integration. And Australia faces a general election.

Anyone hoping for anything other than a big nothingburger from Mueller really hasn’t being paying attention.

Britain is going to decide about the EU? What was the 2016 referendum about then?

It’s a hunt for Australian relevance to suggest the tri-annual federal election is in any way comparable to Trump and Brexit. Australia is almost at the point of selecting Prime Ministers by alphabetical order or like a jury service lottery.

It will also be an important year for the Murdoch media where its power in these three democracies is formidable, and in Australia’s case dominant.

Murdoch’s combined News Corp brands have an annual audience of 16m, of which there will be significant “doubling up” as that won’t be a unique visitor number.

The combined audiences for the state-funded ABC, the brand formerly known as Fairfax and the Guardian have far greater numbers for their left of centre bias.

Murdoch is hardly dominant.

Watching Fox is like watching a revivalist meeting of evangelical fundamentalist preachers seeking to out-compete each other for the affections of “the base”.

An interesting analogy for someone previously very comfortable to been seen saying his prayers out loud.

The result is that the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has been ripped from its moorings, with profound consequences for the American democracy at home, and the American-led global order abroad. Well done Rupert.

An alternative view might be the American voters finally broke the circuit of the una-party where the differences between the Democrats and Republicans could hardly be noticed on most policies, particularly globalisation and foreign policy.

But then he deployed his formidable media arsenal in full-throttled support of Britain leaving Europe during the 2016 referendum before finally hitting the Jackpot with Nigel Farage’s UKIP, the ever-opportunistic Boris Johnson and Brexit.

An alternative view might be, due to a catastrophic miscalculation by David Cameron, the British people were (mistakenly, according to people like Rudd) given a vote on something that had been denied them for 43 years and they chose liberty.

Once again, well done Rupert, and that’s despite the fact that his newspapers had already been found guilty of multiple breaches of the criminal law following the Leveson Inquiry into what became known as the “phone-hacking scandal” in 2011-12.

A little obfuscation there making it sound like Levenson was purely about Murdoch’s mastheads or at least right of centre publications; it was damning about both sides and particularly the left wing Daily Mirror.

By contrast, the Canadian democracy has been in reasonable shape. Interesting that there is negligible Murdoch presence there.

An alternative view might be that, without the balance of a strong right of centre media presence, the Canadian people are suffering awful virtue signalling legislation and have become the laughing stock of the western world under their man child trustafarian Prime Minister.

And then we’re back to where we started, “my beautiful NBN project failed because my very own political party fired me for being a useless and sociopathic control freak and every Prime Minister since has struggled with the reality that it made no economic or practical sense for the government to deliver telecommunications networks“;

This was not just to put Abbott’s mad, right-wing government into office. It was also about protecting his company’s commerical interests by getting Abbott and his then Communications Minister Turnbull to destroy my government’s Fibre Optic to the Premises National Broadband Network.

Bill’s Opinion

Once one understands quite how shallow and self-serving Kevin Rudd is, reading his ramblings can be a great source of shadenfruede; he’s clearly tormented by his total lack of political legacy and it’s completely eating him up during what should be a long and relaxing retirement at the generous Australian taxpayer’s expense.

Bravo!

Rejoice! Clementine Ford returns in 2019!

For some unfathomable reason because most of her opinions are subject to cognitive dissonance, Clementine Ford has been suffering from depression but made it through the festive season without offing herself and has even managed to knock out another couple of hundred words of insanity and/or mendacity.

Trigger warning; You may want to sit down before reading the next sentence.

Clementine Ford doesn’t like the things Louis CK said in a recent comedy routine.

No, really.

She was fully onboard with all of his previous material, such as;

I don’t have a gun, but if I did, I would shoot a baby deer in the mouth and feel nothing.

And she’s fine with his monologue on the N-word;

Take responsibility. They found a way to say nigger—because when you say ’the N-word’ you put the word nigger in the person’s head. You say ’the N-word’ and I go ’Oh, she means nigger.’ That’s just white people getting away with saying nigger. Don’t hide behind the first letter like a faggot.

She really appreciated his joke about pedophile child murderers;

When you fuck a kid, you’ve gotta toss ’em. The guy could just call you, ‘Hey, I fucked your kid. You want me to drop him at soccer?’

And Clementine laughed aloud at his joke about wanking in the time between the two towers falling on 911;

How long after 9/11 until you started masturbating again?

But the material on a recent leaked audio following his #MeToo moment is really beyond the pale for Clementine, resulting in her swooning onto her chez longue in horror;

Leaked audio from a recent show lasting almost an hour laden with racism, ableism, transphobia and the good old-fashioned outrage of a white man who can’t take responsibility for his actions.

Of course, she’s not actually listened to it otherwise she would have written this sentence far more accurately;

There was the commentary on the Parkland shooting victims, who shouldn’t think they’re interesting just because they got shot.

Nope, he doesn’t say that on the leaked audio.

What he does say is that the children who didn’t get shot didn’t magically become imbued with the wisdom of experts on constitutional policy relating to gun crime. That’s a very different and subtle nuance that we wouldn’t expect Clementine to pretend to hear.

And does anybody really believe this statement by La Ford (highlighting mine);

I’m not offended by the idea that any of these topics could be fodder for comedy. But they have to be done well, by the right people, and without the laugh relying on the kind of lazy punch down that all too many comedians reach for because they’re actually far less skilled at their jobs than they think they are.

Pray tell, who gets to decide who the right people are?

But the most telling sentence in Clementine’s first masterpiece of 2019 is the following;

In a recent speech, the genuinely clever and evolving comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke of “the line in the sand” that separates good men from bad men, but that all men reserve the right to be in control of.

If you you are wondering what an “evolving comedian” might be, I suggest you seek out some of Hannah’s work.

Bill’s Opinion

Louis CK has always been a controversial comedian dancing on the edge of good taste. To expect him to suddenly start doing knock knock jokes is to not understand how he’s made people, a lot of people, laugh for several decades.

Hannah Gadsby, on the other hand, is a totally dull scold who plays the room for nods of approval rather than the visceral belly laugh generated by actual comedy. “Evolving comedian” is Clementine’s code for “not fucking funny in the slightest”.

As for Gadsby’s speech on men sexually harassing women, we’ll let you draw your own conclusion on the likelihood of it ever happening to her.

La Ford’s faux outrage at the comedy routine reminds us of this excellent summary;

But perhaps the final word should go to the left wing comedian, Jonathan Pie, who increasingly seems to be travelling the road of enlightenment previously taken by Dave Rubin;

Are you dead? Call 1300 “CROAKED” to let us know

Australian insurer and provider of post-life financial services, (advertising tagline; “Everyone plans for retirement, but life doesn’t have stop afterwards*“), have started to make amends for some local difficulties they experienced in 2018. Namely, charging customers they knew were dead already for financial services. How many? 3,124 stiffs.

What form does this attempt to recover a little reputation make things right take?

A telephone number.

Not just a regular telephone number though, but a traffic cone hotline. No, hang on, that’s something else. No, they’ve implemented a hotline where dead people can call in to notify AMP that they no longer require their financial services due to a lack of breathing.

Ok, the grieving relatives can call too.

Bill’s Opinion

This seems to be solving the wrong problem; presumably, if 3,124 people who AMP knew were dead already were still being charged, the problem wasn’t so much an issue of notification but of doing the right thing with that information afterwards?

Hotblack Desiato famously took a year off, dead, for tax reasons.

One can imagine the transcript of the call with his accountant during that period;


“AMP death hotline, my name is Kylie, how can I help you today?”

“Hello, this is Norbert Young, of Young and Earnest Accountants. I represent Mr. Desiato, one of your clients. I’d like to inform you that, although he is recently deceased, it’s only a temporary condition and therefore would like to continue with his current arrangements with your organisation”.

“Oh, erm that’s not on my information sheet workflow. Let me check with my supervisor, (…..long pause), thanks for holding, Mr. Young. My supervisor says Mr. Desiato will need to inform us of this personally. Could you put him on the line, please?”

“Yes, of course. Handing the phone over now.”

(Very long silence)


Congratulations AMP, this is definitely the shot in the arm the share price needed.

* “Biologically, yes it does. The value of your investment may fall as well as rise.

Your property may be at risk if you secure a loan against it.

AMP is regulated by the Australian Regulator of Spiritualist Enterprises.”

Someone needs to be accountable

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after the Sydney Trains network fell into chaos overnight.

For those who are unaware or disinterested in the clusterfuck that is Sydney Trains, this was quite predictable. After all, it was judged to be the fourth worst for operational efficiency of any metropolitan network in the world, whilst also being the most expensive. Not to mention the previous iteration of the agency and its minor difficulties with corruption.

If you were relying on Sydney Trains to get you home after midnight on New Year’s Eve during an electrical storm, the expression ”Plan B” should be firmly in your vocabulary.

Even the most die-hard fans of fireworks must be prepared for a masterclass in stoicism once the last rocket has been fired.

How bad was the latest train-related problem?

Delays of up to three-and-a-half hours were felt across the grid, with many New Year’s Eve revellers taking to social media to vent about the havoc that occurred after the midnight fireworks.

Jeesh, that’s a long post-midnight wait to get home or, more likely, to where your car is parked to then get you home. Not the best start to 2019.

Let’s look at an example;

Tania Holt had a similar experience after spending New Year’s Eve at Barangaroo Reserve with her family, including her five-month-old nephew Jenson.

Wait, what? You took a five month old baby to the middle of Sydney to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks? What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, maybe this (highlighting added);

“My nephew started to get extremely distressed and started to panic as many of the crowd were drunk and abusive as we passed through,” she said. “My brother and his fiancée were so upset by the end as they were just so worried about his safety; it was completely incompetent planning and appalling service.”

Yes, it certainly does look like a case of incompetent planning, taking a 5 month child to a very crowded New’s Year celebration when a storm is forecast.

Bill’s Opinion

“Accountability” is the mot du jour in Australia; from cricketers being accountable for cheating, to bankers being accountable for charging fees for no service, everyone wants to know who is/was accountable.

In true doublespeak though, what it tends to mean is, “someone else is accountable“. Hence why it’s not the fault of the parents of a young baby that they found themselves stuck in the middle of a boisterous and unhappy crowd long after midnight in a thunderstorm.

New South Wales’ half pregnant drug policies

Obviously this is political rubbish but one suspects they’ve not really thought this through.

Some people have taken drugs at music festivals and have died so the government should test illegal drugs to check that they are safe.

Of course, there’s the usual instinctive dividing line between right and left going on here; “hard on crime” versus “the government must do something“.

There more to be had though. One of the easiest fallacies to fall for is the slippery slope fallacy, but the reason it is so tempting is that, quite often, there really is a slippery slope.

Let’s look at what might be involved in the New South Wales’ state government providing testing facilities for illegal substances at music festivals;

1. A pre-agreed list of drugs that will be tested. Will they be testing ecstasy, speed, ice, smack, Charlie, etc.? Does anyone still supply and take lysergic acid diethylamide?

2. A method of testing for each that can confirm the levels of all relevant substances. Chemical-based drugs (as opposed to organic drugs like weed) can be “cut” with all kinds of weird and wonderful rubbish from warfarin to toothpaste. It also needs to be a method that doesn’t destroy half of the pill or powder otherwise people won’t use the service.

3. Definitions of what “safe” levels of all of the possible danger factors might be.

4. Legal protection from the consequences of mistakes in the testing process. For example, if 19 year old Jaxson takes a pill to the government testing tent and is told it contains safe levels of amphetamine sulphate but, an hour later, he keels over and dies, is the NSW taxpayer suddenly on the hook for a massive compensation claim from his parents?

5. Legal protection from the consequences of capacity issues; what if Jaxson dies at a location not served by the government tent with folks in white coats?

Bill’s Opinion

The calls for illegal drug testing services at music festivals seems poorly-thought through and, instead, look like a thinly-disguised move towards legalising and regulating recreational drugs.

That’s a debate that really needs to be had in the open. There are many strong arguments for and against legalising and regulating recreational drugs but these are not being presented here. Instead, there’s a risk of a semi-legal, semi-regulated fudge of a compromise occurring, with a lot of unintended consequences later.

For what it’s worth, my view is that recreational drugs should be legalised, regulated (for quality and ensuring strict non-supply to minors) and taxed. There’s a large economy out there that law-abiding citizens could be benefiting from financially.