Are any of them studying maths?

Universities will foot the bill for international students to return to NSW within weeks, with 250 students to arrive each fortnight on charter flights before quarantining in special accommodation.

The pilot program is expected to start within six weeks and will be scaled up by the end of the year to 500 students each fortnight.

As we discussed recently, in a normal year, Australia brings in about 650,000 students on the “pretend to study for a degree to get permanent residency” scheme.

So, at 250 students a fortnight, the university sector will be back to full capacity in about /checks calculator/ ten years. Five years if they got to the 500 a fortnight rate quickly. Assuming none of those students graduate in the meantime, obviously.

UPDATE: Yeah, my maths was shite today too. The point remains though, it’s lipstick on a pig.

Which is probably a fair assumption given they’re not really spending the money for the quality of the education, but the sticker in the passport.

Bill’s Opinion

I’m willing to bet there was recently a conversation along these lines:

University Chancellors: You’ve got to do something, we’re dying on our arses here. Where our bail out?

State Treasurer: Ok, if you foot the bill for the quarantine accommodation, you can bring in as manly as you want. Roughly how many would that be?

University Chancellors: (stares at shoes, awkwardly).

(By the way, apologies for the lack of verbosity here recently; I’ve been a little distracted. Normal service will be resumed now).

AstraZeneca jab reduces the risk of blood clots!

Of course not. There’s no evidence for this at all.

There’s plenty of evidence very few journalists have any useful level of competence at mathematics though (Jess Irvine included).

A classic example presents itself here; a nurse in Queen’sland experienced a DVT (or blood clot) shortly after having her first “jab” of the AZ vaccine.

This was front page news, despite no evidence linking the DVT with the injection.

Sure, there’s no evidence not linking them either, which is presumably the “public interest” reason for the reporting.

The reporting misses some critical questions and answers, of course. It would be setting expectations far too high for us to hope for competent reporting from our media in 2021.

Anyone capable of basic maths, specifically being able to calculate ratios, fractions, or percentages might ask questions such as:

How many DVTs normally occur in a population?

What is the current rate of DVTs in the recently vaccinated cohort?

What is the rate of hospitalisations for dog bites per capita?

The answer to the first question can be found via the USA’s CDC; 0.25%.

The answer to the second question can be calculated from the article; 1.8m jabs delivered in Australia so far and 18 related DVT cases. So 0.001%. If we assume a DVT caused by the jab will occur with a month whereas the CDC figure is annualised, we should multiply that by 30 days, so 0.03%.

The number of dog bite-related hospital referrals can be found here; 0.016%.

Bill’s Opinion

We can draw several clear conclusions from this data:

1. Statistically, the AstraZeneca jab protects people from DVTs. Ok, it doesn’t really but if we’re playing Numberwang, we may as well say it does.

2. Statistically, the AstraZeneca jab is twice as dangerous as walking your dog.

3. Journalists are fucking innumerate twats.

Jenna Hates….. buying leaving drinks

And her exit party might not be far away as the long term career prospects for a lecturer in Humanities in an Australian university can’t be particularly secure.

Today’s whine is on the subject of the financial viability of the university sector, after a year of massively reduced revenue.

In a moment of exquisite irony and demonstrating a profound lack of introspection, Janna Hates discusses critical thinking and freedom of speech. Obviously, she then follows that up by not addressing any of the huge pachyderm-shaped objects in the refectory.

Please bear in mind Jenna teaches journalism, and then wonder about the quality standards we will be subjected to from her students.

The university system in this country is dying. The government used the pandemic to destroy the places for critical conversations; and university management mostly rolled over.

The second sentence both presumes motives, mind reading in other words, and demonstrates a keen grasp of irony when suggesting the Australian academe isn’t an ideological echo chamber.

Mass redundancies, both voluntary and forced across the sector, have left big gaps in teaching staff. In some places that led to decisions to close down subjects, courses, departments. Right now, nearly every university is considering merging faculties.

Which departments are merging, do we think? Physics with Mathematics? Medicine with Engineering? Or maybe Gender Studies with Sociology? Go on, have a guess.

She continues with a complaint over the availability of the government furlough scheme to private but not public universities. Prima facie, that sounds quite damning. Of course, the critical thinkers amongst us might wish to investigate further.

It turns out, some private universities qualified for the furlough schemes due to having a lower turnover and assistance was made available to all universities based on a per capita payment for domestic students.

What two hypotheses might we consider based on those facts?

How about, (1) for reasons unknown, publicly funded universities are significantly larger in financial turnover than private universities and (2) they’d all be a lot better off right now if they didn’t rely heavily on overseas students.

Or, to put it another way, Jenna Hates is complaining because your taxes aren’t being used to bail out the educational infrastructure for overseas students.

Let’s go full reductio ad absurdum; Jenna Hates wants the income tax paid by an Australian worker stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift to be used to subsidise the immigration scam education of Chinese kids with rich parents.

The rest of the article follows the usual modus operandi, wandering all over the place accusing “the government” of being negligent at best but most likely mendacious. Don’t waste your time on it unless you’ve really got nothing better to do. Maybe page to the bottom to spot where she can’t resist having a dig at a man who has been accused without proof, by a dead person, of rape and, because of this, should resign.

Let’s return to the original problem. Australian universities are haemorrhaging cash and are having to cut costs to survive.

That’s interesting, isn’t it. Because, as far as one can tell, Australian high schools are still pumping out kids with all the correct qualifications to go on to higher education. The student loan industry is still active and the economy is going gangbusters.

So why the big problems?

Well

617,000 overseas students? What’s that as a percentage of all university students in a normal year? About 44%.

How does that compare with another English-speaking country? The UK usually takes about half a million overseas students, or about 20% of the total.

There isn’t a pandemic every year, of course, but even so, a sector which is ostensibly designed to educate a country’s population yet relies on the revenue generated from almost one overseas students for every domestic student was perhaps always built on risky business model.

It’s even worse than that; fees paid by overseas students are often as much as double those paid by domestic students. The first class passengers are subsidising the economy class travellers.

Or, more accurately, they’re not this year. Hence the subject of Jenna Hates’ current cause célèbre.

Bill’s Opinion

I’m really sorry anyone lost their job as a result of the governmental response to the virus. However, the reality is some sectors of the economy were already unsustainable before the pandemic.

An education sector which had grown to provide as many places to people from countries with recognised high quality universities as it does for its domestic customers was one such sector.

If it wasn’t the 2020 pandemic that caught it napping, it would have been the next financial crisis or cooling of international diplomacy.

There is another inconvenient fact our Lecturer in Journalism, Jenna Hates, fails to address; the overseas student visa has been primarily a fast track to residency for many students, with the academic achievement being a far distant second.

Perhaps a shrunken university sector might serve the Australian student population better as it would have to focus on the quality of the teaching of “hard” subjects with, y’know, actual careers waiting for them once they’ve graduated?

Think critically about that for a moment, Jenna Hates.

Manchurian OpEds part liǎng

Do you hate your country? Do you despise it’s history? Do you believe it was founded on dishonest principles by people who were evil? Is this loathing so great that you wish to see our enemies thrive and our country decline?

Ridiculous questions, right?

Most, if not almost every citizen of a first world country would not agree with the sentiments above. Sure, your country has a mixed past, with shameful episodes but, judged against its contemporary peers, most people would suggest the balance is tipped towards a favourable report card.

To sustain that level of self-loathing (or loathing of your country) would require a deliberate effort to ignore the relative positive differences between your day to day life and most other places in the world and, almost as importantly, the relative differences between your life and those of every one of your ancestors.

Walter Duranty was one such exception. He deliberately misled the public (and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for it!) about Stalin’s reign of terror. History should judge critically those useful idiots who are prepared to wilfully ignore mass murder and state-sanctioned famine for the vague promises of a future utopia.

A quote, possibly falsely attributed to Duranty but certainly used by other apologists for the Soviets explains, “In order to make an omelette, you have break a few eggs”. The correct response to which, is of course, that offered by George Orwell and Panait Istrati, “Where’s the omelette?”.

Or, more specifically, “where’s the omelette you made by murdering 100,00,000 humans?

We examined in the previous post how a supposedly objective finance newspaper in Australia is prepared to publish, without challenge, several hundred words imploring us to change our institutions and way of life, written by sources highly likely to be under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party.

It gets worse, though. If our problem was just one compromised editorial team on one newspaper, we might not have such a big problem.

The chances are, our universities are riddled with people under direct or indirect influence of the Chinese Communist Party. An obvious Manchurian Candidate would be Professor Golley of the ANU.

The short version of the linked story is she relied heavily on CCP propaganda disguised as independent research to downplay the brutal humanitarian crimes being committed agains the Uighurs. When confronted, she then doubled down on the apologist standpoint.

Let’s pluck some quotes, in her own words, offered as her defence:

So that’s where I used my academic judgement, I’ve spent my whole life peer-reviewing articles. I read it and thought that there many points that make sense to me.

Because the article you referenced was so favourable to the CCP it should have made you consider its source and authenticity. “Inquiry” being the keystone of academia, after all.

“I know more about <the Uighur region> Xinjiang than Pompeo, I don’t want to sound cocky but I know more than what 99 per cent of Australians know about Xinjiang.”

Consider the possibility you don’t know more about morality than 99% of Australians, however.

“There are all sorts of fuzzy lines between what constitutes forced and what constitutes choice – what if 30 per cent of Uighers are choosing to work?”

She really said that out aloud.

Professor Golley said she still did not know the authors of the paper but defended their right to submit the paper to her anonymously via proxies saying they would be “persecuted” if exposed.

No alarm bells were harmed in the receipt of this anonymous report.

When the names come out there will be some Chinese names in the list and people will immediately assume that they’ve been subjected to Beijing’s orders when it might be the case that that’s just how they see the world and then they’ll be persecuted – they’re going to be labelled spies.”

People living in a country with an appalling human rights record tend to be loudly and publicly sympathetic to the regime. This should not be a surprise to someone whose career has been built on detailed knowledge of an authoritarian regime. A curious mind might ask questions, however.

Last year ANU was the victim of a massive data hack, with China considered the culprit. But Golley said she had seen little evidence of any foreign interference at the ANU. “There’s some evidence of it, we don’t know how widespread it is,” she said. “This is another example of needing to be very clear-eyed about the facts.”

Quite right, it was probably Bhutan or Andorra.

She said she had never been paid a single cent by the Chinese Communist Party but that had failed to stem an avalanche of “hate mail” “close to death threats” telling her to “f— off, you communist spy,” and calling her a “shill” for China.

This feels like it could be easily proven by listing the source of all research funding from which she’s benefited, and while we’re at it, the funding for the various international conferences she’s attended. I’ll wait.

“I feel so misjudged, if people knew me, I just want the best for the Uighurs,” she said.

Even those who have benefited from free “family planning services” or the 70% who didn’t choose to work.

She said her motivation for presenting the paper was a concern that academic freedom is being stifled in Australia but she is also concerned that exaggerating China’s human rights abuses could backfire if it emerged they were overstated.

We can all be concerned about academic freedom. Based on the evidence in front of us, she is still able to qualify for research grants and can also have her opinion written in national newspapers, one might conclude Australia isn’t the country stifling free speech. Who can name a country that is? Bueller? Anyone?

She also urged Australians to consider its own genocidal past against Indigenous Australians, saying while it did not justify abuses in Xinjiang it was not “completely irrelevant either”.

Straight out of the CCP playbook. Can anyone guess which we should consider more urgent, a crime committed 200 years ago by people long dead and crimes being committed right now by living humans?

“Sovereignty was never ceded,” she said of the British settlement of Australia as a penal colony in the late 1700s. “I’m revolted that the Australian War Memorial doesn’t have any memorial for the Frontier Wars.”

But is she revolted about the genocide and continuous human rights abuses by the CCP over the last seventy years to the present day? Not so much.

Bill’s Opinion

There’s almost no point being shocked or disgusted by the treasonous self-loathing of these people. You won’t change their minds.

Professor Golley hates you. She’s hates the country and system in which you live. She would be the first to denounce you to the secret police if the People’s Liberation Army ever marched into Australia.

She knows she is right and you are too stupid to be anything other than wrong.

Keep paying your taxes, as she needs to spend a few more years researching why Common Law and individual freedoms are not as righteous as the Chinese Communist Party’s rule.

As for her academic freedom, here’s two recent sources suggesting most of our institutions are riddled with CCP influence; Spectator and Washington Examiner.


Finally, there is a special place in hell reserved for those who try to draw moral equivalence across generations.
People who looked like you did something terrible 200 years ago so how dare you criticise an actual living human for doing something terrible in the present”

Hanlon a minute

Hanlon’s razor is a principle or rule of thumb that states “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

This describes my default position whenever I try to parse the statements of politicians. Only their words however, not their actions; the motivation behind these are usually painfully obvious as the trusty revealed versus expressed preferences test explains.

Politicians’ words are often a tricky minefield to navigate though. For example, should the public be wearing masks to combat the virus? Well, no AND yes and you’ll be fined if you don’t keep up with the changes.

Experience has taught me to use Hanlon’s Razor as a safe heuristic to quickly make sense of a politician’s pontificating. For a single statement made by a single politician, it’s rarely wrong. They’re all dumber than bag of hammers and usually a one off statement is simply that lack of intellect revealing itself in verbal form.

When several, seemingly unconnected, politicians make similar or even identical statements, we should probably consider being a little more sceptical of relying on Robert Hanlon’s shaving device.

For example; in the same 24 hour period, Boris Johnson claims lockdowns, not the world’s 2nd largest per capita vaccinated population, reduced deaths and Greg Hunt’s suggestion that, even if Australia ever got its shit together and vaccinated the population, we won’t be leaving the country for several years.

Well, aren’t we just living in a very connected world, eh? Two senior government officials on different sides of the globe decide to downplay the effectiveness of vaccines, one of whom has spent the previous 6 months reminding his country on a daily basis that “normality” would return once enough people had done their civic duty and had the vaccine.

Coincidence? Conspiracy? Collective incompetence? Cowardice?

Your guess is a good as mine.

The one thing we can probably bet the house on is we will not be getting on a plane to an overseas holiday or be welcoming friends and relatives from overseas any time soon, regardless of vaccination status, vaccination passports or any other factor.

Bill’s Opinion

There’s been too many of these coincidences to be ignored. From the lockstep changes over last year of every national leader’s position on masks, school closures, lockdowns, herd immunity, not overwhelming the hospitals and now the effectiveness of vaccinations, the pattern has become too obvious to be ignored.

Hanlon’s Razor suggests we should consider a kinder explanation before assuming bad intentions. My view on these frequent coincidences is now not that we have incompetent leaders, I’ve always assumed that, but they compound their stupidity with cowardice.

No democratic leader is going to risk being accused of having “blood on their hands” by returning those freedoms we used to believe were rights while there is a risk of a single death by this virus. Regardless of any other cost.

Lastly, if your income relies on incoming tourism or overseas visitors such as students, what would the rational response be to Greg Hunt’s latest statement?

Yep, close up and go do something, anything, else.

“I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if a million Australian hospitality workers cried out and were suddenly silenced

Hot dog, boiling frogs, Albuquerque

We’ve all got different limits.

In the film Falling Down, the main character reaches his after a long and difficult day when a store owner refuses to give change to make a telephone call.

For Britons, perhaps it’s the passing of this law later today, banning “non essential” overseas travel, at almost the precise point the herd/vaccine immunity makes itself clear on the offical statistics.

Sorry. WHAT?

Over the 806 years of Common Law, the principle has been consistent: if something isn’t explicitly banned, it’s allowed. Look at how lightly the current crop of politicians are prepared to flip that on its head.

Previously, if a citizen (synonym; “free man“) wished to travel overseas, they would only be prevented for a small list of reasons such as to flee prosecution for a criminal offence, or there was a reasonable expectation they were intending to commit an offence overseas (child abuse, for example).

In 2021, we now have just ten reasons a citizen can cite to not be detained in domestic captivity.

These reasons are listed below, you’ll read them and think, that’s reasonable.

But you’d be wrong. Dead fucking wrong.

It’s so unreasonable, it justifies outrage. Not violence, we’re not there yet, but we should be doing everything within in our capability to fire the people who thought this was a good day’s work in Westminster and never allow them to hold public office again.

If you’ve committed no crime, have no intention of committing a crime, perhaps you’ve even had the bloody vaccine like you were told to, who the fuck should be able to prevent you from departing the country?

Some wanky bureaucrat making a decision to hand out five grand fines at Dover because their interpretation of your reason to leave the country is that it isn’t good enough? Fuck off. Fuck right off.

Those ten reasons:

Study

Work

Weddings

Legal obligations

Moving, selling or renting property

Childcare or to be present at a birth

Visiting a dying relative

Attending a funeral

Medical appointments

Escaping a risk of harm

Bill’s Opinion

That last reason is a doozy.

It’ll be interesting to review the final wording of the act to look for the opportunity to cite, “taking a mental health break from an authoritarian government, operating for over a decade without a credible opposition, imposing arbitrary and unscientific laws on citizens” as a valid interpretation.

I no longer recognise my country of birth and its supine, compliant, frit citizens.

This is a country who produced someone capable of delivering this speech with a straight face and honest intentions. An iron curtain has indeed fallen across the continent.

Take it away Byron:

“England! with all thy faults I love thee still,”

I said at Calais, and have not forgot it;

I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;

I like the government (but that is not it);

I like the freedom of the press and quill;

I like the Habeas Corpus (when we’ve got it);

I like a parliamentary debate,

Particularly when ’tis not too late;

I like the taxes, when they’re not too many;

I like a seacoal fire, when not too dear;

I like a beef-steak, too, as well as any;

Have no objection to a pot of beer;

I like the weather, when it is not rainy,

That is, I like two months of every year,

And so God save the Regent, Church, and King!

Which means that I like all and everything.

Our standing army, and disbanded seamen,

Poor’s rate, Reform, my own, the nation’s debt,

Our little riots just to show we are free men,

Our trifling bankruptcies in the Gazette,

Our cloudy climate, and our chilly women,

All these I can forgive, and those forget,

And greatly venerate our recent glories,

And wish they were not owing to the Tories.

Covid numberwang

Have we reached the point where there is any credibility left in academia or the news industry when they present numbers to us?

Here’s an example. London bus drivers three times more likely to die from Covid.

Well, that’s bad, obviously.

I came across this article because I’d been waiting for data to appear to help answer a question that’s been nagging my brain for some time. That is, what’s the relative rates of infection, hospitalisation and death for the workers who’ve been unable to work from home for the last year. I’m thinking of bus drivers and supermarket cashiers, specifically.

Read the article for yourself, but data points offered include:

  • 51 bus drivers have died of covid.
  • This equates to “three times” the rate of other workers (but the actual rate isn’t offered, nor is the denominator).
  • “….an earlier introduction of the lockdown on 23 March 2020 would have saved lives“.
  • The report confirms driving a London bus is one of the most dangerous jobs during the pandemic.”

If we accept the UK population is about 67 million, give or take a couple of million illegal immigrants, and the offical total of covid deaths is about 126,000, then the population fatality rate is just under 0.2%.

Despite the BBC article not bothering you with this detail, a search would suggest there were approximately 24,500 bus drivers in London in 2014. So, 51/24,500 x 100 = a death rate of 0.2%.

Obviously the UK-wide calculation is using the overall population, including retirees who would skew the ratio up, but also children who would skew the ratio down. But, as a sniff test, it suggests there’s not something wildly different going on with bus drivers, despite what the report claims.

The assertion that driving a bus is one of the most dangerous professions seems to be doing a little heavy lifting and one many cycle couriers and North Sea divers may want to take issue with.

The report’s conclusion seems suspiciously in line with precisely what Sadiq Khan paid them to write was expecting, i.e. evil and stupid Boris Johnson should have shut down the country earlier.

In other news, if nobody ever travelled by car again, there would be no more traffic fatalities and, in a specific example, if James Dean had taken a train instead of driving Little Bastard he might still be here today. Just because a statement is true doesn’t mean it’s helpful.

If you wish to bypass the useless reporting, the full 87 pages of the UCL report can be found here. Fair warning, it won’t improve your confidence in the existence of objective science, though.

The report attempts to parse diverse data sets on areas such as age, ethnicity, health, social status, housing, and methods of commute to work to produce a conclusion on why the death rate was so high (a prior assumption which we can challenge) and what could have been done or can still be done to ameliorate it.

Judge for yourself whether this was achieved and whether or not objective scientific analysis was used.

Bill’s Opinion

Personally, I’m none the wiser on two important questions:

Have front line workers been disproportionately infected or killed by the virus, and if so, why?

The report has convinced me of one fact, however; this is a multi-variable problem and seeking a single reason is pointless. 87 pages of pointlessness, in this case.

Some clues can be found within the report, if one looks hard enough though. Once you get past the headline conclusion of, “keeping everyone at home earlier would have stopped bus drivers from catching a virus and dying from it“, there is a tell tale admission in the second recommendation:

2) In the longer term, early interventions on ill-health prevention are needed to reduce obesity in the population as a whole, with responsible employers playing their part. In particular, measures are needed among younger London bus drivers who have higher rates than other young people of the same age.

Finally, he who pays the piper, calls the tune. This is a flawed and political study, primarily for the purpose of shifting blame on to the Mayor of London’s political opponent.

The clue is even in the organisation name, the Institute of Health Equity.

Equity. Whenever one sees that noun, it’s a clear signal you are dealing with disciples of Critical Theory and should treat the call for action with the same credibility as the Heaven’s Gate Cult.

A year on and we still can’t trust any number offered on the subject.

Jenna Hates…..

.…the Australian David Icke.

Don’t bother clicking the link; it’s little more than an emotional rant about MP Craig Kelly whilst cheering her favourite female MP.

Jenna Hates has written the definition of a Canberra circle jerk about the most “inside the beltway” story of the year. Literally nobody with a life outside of Canberra or the media gives a damn about it.

In fact, the reporting on Kelly is the epitome of laziness.

Why?

Because the media have a wild eyed conspiracy theorist to report on, they don’t have to be inconvenienced to ask any of the questions more curious minds would like to hear the answers to.

Sure, the Aussie version of Alex Jones is an annoying tool, but why is he the only person with a platform taking about treatments for the virus?

I’ve not read a single report anywhere about the therapeutic treatments of the virus since about June last year when we were all working out how to build a ventilator using parts available from the hardware store. Remember when the supermarkets ran out of paracetamol?

Think for a moment; when was the last time you read or heard a news report about treatments? Is it not strange that dog isn’t barking?

How is it being treated around the world and what’s proven to be effective? The medics in the UK and USA must have learned a load of lessons now.

Is nobody other than MP Craig Kelly curious about what works?

When did medical treatment become a political litmus test?

Bill’s Opinion

I hate all media. Loathe them. The industry is no longer fit for purpose. The vast majority of journalists are low IQ, low rent automatons at best, partisan mendacious hacks more likely

I can count on the fingers of one foot the number of objective good faith and intelligent people working in the news industry.

Their adherence without question to a received narrative shows a lack of imagination and curiosity of mind. There is simply no room for nuance and we are all the poorer for it.

As for Jenna Price, one imagines the last time an original thought entered her head, it was politely but firmly shown the door.

…and don’t do it again!

…unless you want to.

Well, that certainly gave President Xi a piece of our mind. I hope he reads it carefully and has second thoughts about his nasty policy of reneging on the 50 year agreement to not impose Chinese legislation on Hong Kong.

One can only imagine the reaction in the inner circle of power in Beijing, they must be absolutely shitting their pants.

Well, imagine no further; we’ve been very fortunate to have access to a secret recording of President Xi’s reaction.

Helpfully, it has been translated for us by Kevin Rudd. Many of you may not be aware, because he doesn’t like to mention it, but the former Australian Prime Minister is fluent in Mandarin:

(Presidential aide passes the text of the Australian response to the arrests to Xi)

(Pause while he reads it)

(Xi scrunches the paper into a tight ball and aims it at the basketball hoop on his wall. Throws and gets it in).

President Xi: Three points! Yao Ming eat yer heart out!

Bill’s Opinion

In August 2019 I wrote about Australia’s quandary on how best to deal with China.

This piss weak response to a further incursion in to the freedoms of the Hong Kongers, supposedly protected under international law, tells us which side of the Chamberlain/Churchill spectrum the current Australian Federal Government have chosen to sit.

That’s fine, we can choose appeasement and cowardice if that’s what we feel is best for our interests. But let’s just admit it then, rather than pretending we’re some kind of moral arbiter and guardians of objective truth.

Without Chinese trade links, Australia is more fucked than a Wan Chai whore after a weekend when a US aircraft carrier has been in town.

They know that, we know that and they know we know that. Which means China can do what the fuck they like and we won’t lift a finger, except perhaps to wave a piece of paper thus:

Dine and discover unintended consequences

There’s a trial underway in New South Wales which apes Boris Johnson’s “Eat out to help out” stimulus from earlier in the year.

The NSW version is the “Dine and discover” programme.

It’s being trialled in The Rocks area of Sydney, later to be rolled out to the rest of the state.

It differs from the UK version however, as the business categories eligible for the stimulus are far greater, including “scenic and sightseeing transport”, “recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice-rinks”, “outdoor adventures”, and “travel agencies and tours.

Can anyone see a flaw in the scope of the trial and what do we think happens next?

Bueller? Anyone?

There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in The Rocks, but go-karting and outdoor adventures? Not so many. Similarly, there’s not a huge number of travel and touring businesses based out of the small historic part of Sydney.

Why is this a problem?

Well, what won’t be tested as these $25 vouchers are rolled out is whether there’s an opportunity for misuse and fraud.

Anyone who’s ever previously met another human will instinctively know the axiom, if fraud is possible and a large enough number of people are involved, fraud will occur.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s an absolute certainty there will be multiple cases of newly-registered or previously dormant businesses making a load of free money from innovative use of these vouchers.

At its simplest, a scam might simply launder part of the $25 back to the consumer, say, $20 in cash back to you while my “scenic tour business” pockets a fiver and nobody says anything.

More imaginative minds than mine will be working on various elaborate and profitable versions of this idea right now.

This is little league stuff compared with some of the Bernie Madoff-esque scams surely underway already in financial markets, though.

2021 is going to be the “everything bubble” party. Perhaps 2022 is when the hangover kicks in?